Some days can feel so terrible you think the entire world has some beef against you. You wake up to an empty generator tank, which means no hot bath for you, and while running late to work, your nice shoes get ruined in the rain. You make it to work, but at lunch time, just before it’s your turn, the canteen runs out of food.
Then just before you’re about leaving for home, your boss gives you an assignment with a 3-hour deadline! You finally made it home but it’s not over. Your mother calls to say some girl in your secondary school class is getting married, and she’s wondering if she’ll be the last mother on earth with an unmarried daughter.
On days like these when you just need a pick-me-up, you can be sure to count on She Leads Africa to swoop down and resuce you with some common sense.
We’ve got 13 inspirational and motivational quotes to help you remember that today’s challenges won’t be there tomorrow.
1. Strive Masiyiwa – Founder of Econet Wireless
“The opportunity is in the problem. The moment I see a problem, I immediately begin to think about the opportunities that can be created by trying to solve it.”
2. Teresa Mbagaya – Microsoft Education Lead, East & Southern Africa
“On career, I’ve always remarked that absolutely no one but you is responsible for your career; as such, plan for your future. Ask for that promotion, ask to be included in strategic meetings, invest in your leadership and in your colleagues, ask to take lead of varied initiatives and best yet, bring your best self to world.”
3. Lupita Nyong’o – Actress
“It’s only when you risk failure that you discover things. When you play it safe, you’re not expressing the utmost of your human experience.”
4. Kechi Okwuchi – Sosoliso plane crash survivor
“I make decisions based on what I like – not what I look like.’’
5. Kene Mkparu – MD / CEO at Filmhouse Cinemas
“Consider what is in your hands, Africa needs your talent.”
6. Fred Swaniker – Founder of African Leadership Academy
“Everywhere I went I experienced the wonderful beauty of our continent and saw the resilience and the spirit of our people, and at that time, I realized that I wanted to dedicate the rest of my life to making this continent great.”
7. Heshan de Silva – CEO of De Silva Group
“You can never start a business based on what you like right now. Because what you liked 5 years ago, is not what you like today. So, have something deeper than what you like as a starting point.”
8. Uche Pedro – Founder of Bella Naija
“Keep it simple, don’t try to do everything. Pick your lane and be the best at it.”
9. John Obidi – Social media strategist
“It is not only important for you to become a superstar at what you do, it is necessary. There are people in your future counting on you to make it.”
10. Zain Asher – Anchor at CNN International
“I don’t believe in competing for what I want, I believe in creating what I want.”
11. Nancy Kacungira – News Anchor
“We need to begin a dialogue between ourselves… It’s time we start writing a new narrative that doesn’t focus on the struggle, but on progression.”
12. Aliko Dangote – Businessman
“I built a conglomerate and emerged the richest black man in the world in 2008 but it didn’t happen overnight. It took me thirty years to get to where I am today. Youths of today aspire to be like me but they want to achieve it overnight. It’s not going to work. To build a successful business, you must start small and dream big. In the journey of entrepreneurship, tenacity of purpose is supreme.”
13. Chimamanda Adichie – Author
“Of course I am not worried about intimidating men. The type of man who will be intimidated by me is exactly the type of man I have no interest in.”
Lupita Nyong’o and Danai Gurira are history makers individually and now, collectively. Eclipsed, the play Danai wrote and Lupita stars in, is the first Broadway production that has a female playwright, a female director, and an all-female cast. The play which premiered last week has received incredible reviews, and we, of course, expected nothing less from these powerhouses.
Here are 2 things we learned about sisterhood, friendship, and business from these Motherland Moguls.
Keep your promises, even if it takes a couple of years
When Lupita arrived at Yale, the first role she was assigned to was to be an understudy in Eclipsed (written by Danai). From then on Lupita promised herself that she would one day do this play. She even mentioned the play in her first Vogue cover story and after a run at the Public Theater in 2015, Lupita emailed Danai and told her “Let’s do Eclipsed” and the rest is history.
Have you promised to take a look at your friends resume or give feedback on a new purse design? Stop procrastinating and follow through on your commitment. As friends and sisters, we need to lend each other a helping hand.
Your passion can inspire others
In Variety magazineDanai stated “It’s very clear to me what my drive is. I tell African women’s stories. It doesn’t mean I don’t do other things, but that’s my thing. It’s rooted in a passion for that, and it’s rooted in a rage because I feel that they are so under- and misrepresented. I’m trying to link these two places, and have Africa be seen by the West in a more multidimensional, complex and celebratory way.”
For Lupita, when she was deciding where to go to drama school, she was nervous about only doing work that focused on the Eurocentric point of view. When she arrived in the States from Kenya, she was so grateful that the first play she received was written by an African woman and focused on powerful female characters.
Danai followed her passion and created a play that has given other young African women the opportunity to shine. Lupita was inspired and motivated by the play at the beginning of her professional acting career. How many other young, African women have been inspired by Lupita’s acting and activism all across the globe?
Are you genuinely following your passions or you just managing with what you can do? You never know the impact your business idea, non-profit or role in a company can have on others. By following your passion, you can inspire and motivate others to achieve their goals.
It can be easy to lose yourself on the journey to success. Sisterhood can challenge us to become better versions of ourselves and help us remember what is truly important. Sisterhood in our communities connects all of us like a spider web. If one part of the web tears we all feel it. Think about what we could collectively accomplish if we all kept our promises and helped motivate others like Lupita and Danai.
Some days ago on a road trip to IITA Ibadan for my company’s annual retreat, there was this huge debate between what I have chosen to call the new school modern family values enthusiasts and the old school traditional family values enthusiasts, over married women and their career choices/decisions.
It was a long and interesting conversation, voices were raised, opinions flew back and forth, words were exchanged (although with no ill intents), feelings and sentiments were bruised, perspectives were vehemently challenged and even faith was questioned. At the end of the trip (and as such the conversation), there was no victor and no vanquished, proving (yet again) that:
Opinions are formed over time, experiences and the accumulation of a body of knowledge and it takes more than one heated conversation to get people to change those opinions.
Back to the reason we are all gathered here today, I think that because of my age, most of the conversations I have with family, friends, acquaintances and even colleagues are pivoted around, you-guessed-right! Marriage. So, while we talk business, entrepreneurship, career and our shared ambition to take over the world, we should also take a moment to address the pink elephant in the room.
So, tag along while I attempt to dissect some of the concerns we young women have when it comes to the institution of marriage.
The validity of aspiring to marriage
With Chimamanda Adichie’s 2013 TED talk (made even popular by Beyonce’s inclusion in the song, Flawless) finding its way into mainstream culture and conversations, we women are gradually being liberated from that flawed conviction that marriage is the gold standard and a ‘mark of success in life’.
While this can be called progress in some ways, it also has its downsides. Hold on, let me explain. The feminist-driven academic and journalistic culture celebrating today’s “liberated” women, also in some ways, seeks to suppress a natural need for family that most women have.
In recent times, there has been a blizzard of anti-marriage sentiments shared vocally among the female folks especially across social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook. And this is largely because most of them do not want to be seen as aspiring to marriage but hand on heart – and this is quite controversial. I do not know of one woman who does not want to have her own husband and possibly children to come home to after a long day at work.
When discussing the issue in an open and public platform, most young women would be quick to put up an air of indifference with respect to marriage but get her alone and the story would be entirely different. There, I’ve said it! (But let’s not forget that this is an entirely unscientific view based only on my circle of friends, acquaintances and interactions with random people).
Therefore, my take on this issue is rather simple: as much as marriage is not the holy grail of womanhood, I think wanting to be married and subsequently aspiring to it, is valid! As such, you are allowed to be intentional about it, as you are with work/business. (For more on this please try reading this from Dr. Meg Jay).
The dichotomy between marriage and work
In 2011, the COO of Facebook Sheryl Sandberg made a statement that went viral;
“The most important career choice you’ll make is who you marry.”
I only came across this statement last year and it was insightful for me because it reaffirmed a conviction that I have always held and still hold; that the man I marry would take me one step closer to my biggest dreams. Before going further, I should clearly state that I have nothing against stay-at-home mums. On the contrary, any woman who readily gives up the fancy skirt suits and board meetings for house cleaning and grocery shopping has my respect.
However, I do not think that marriage and even motherhood has to be a stumbling block on a woman’s pathway to progress. Society typically expects the woman to lean back and make only those career moves that are convenient for her status as a married woman but that does not always have to be the case. Family is a collective and shared responsibility placed equally on both the man and the woman even though both have to function in different capacities. With proper planning, communication and understanding between partners, I believe it is possible for both to raise a decent family without anyone’s dreams or goals suffering for it.
This is where Sheryl’s statement becomes important. Because for this to happen and for this system to work, you need a man who acknowledges the validity of your dreams, believes in the weight of your ambitions and is ready and willing to support you towards reaching your goals regardless of what that ‘support’ might involve.
So yes, married or single, you are allowed to aspire to heights unimaginable in your personal and professional life and marriage if done right, would serve as a catalyst and not a distraction.
Knowing when enough is enough!
There are reports that say that every fourth Nigerian woman suffers some form of domestic violence in her life time. The worst forms of these are usually battering, trafficking, rape and homicide. And it seems only sensible that I lend my voice to this recurring social menace that is plaguing our society, the institution of marriage and women in particular. This is however not to say that men do not suffer domestic abuse or to disregard that possibility.
On this issue, there really isn’t so much I have to say that would be entirely new to you but this, LEAVE! If you unfortunately find yourself in an abusive relationship, before you consider any other solution or any form of therapy, get yourself out of that situation and environment. No man is allowed to hit you out of love or in an attempt to discipline you or for any other reason that you may want to let yourself believe.
So, for the young woman whose boyfriend angrily shoved her aside and slammed the door on his way out after she informed him of her decision to enroll for another master’s program, for the mother of 2 who got slapped because she scolded her son for spilling fruit juice all over his school uniform, my advice to you is simple. LEAVE!
I have to admit that this is definitely not the easiest thing to do especially with cultural and religious beliefs that advocate total submission and endurance of whatever treatment a woman gets from a man or her husband, as the case may be. But understand that submission as admirable as it is, should also not put you in danger or harm’s way. Many lives and dreams have been lost to domestic violence and yours should definitely not be one of those. Because if he hits you once he would hit you again, if he ever does hit you, please LEAVE!
I’d conclude by saying that as women, we cannot avoid all of the conversations around marriage but what we can do is carefully moderate that conversation in a way that encourages an exchange of perspectives that is beneficial to us all.
So what is your narrative?
Single and conflicted as to whether or not you should be actively seeking out a life partner?
Married and tempted to quit your job because someone thinks you are not capable of making both work?
In a relationship where your partner would rather dialogue with his fists than words?
Do you sometimes sluggishly drag yourself out of bed on a Monday morning? To stay on your A game, you have to cultivate certain habits to increase energy and productivity for the week ahead.
These seven habits are a sure fire way to give you the needed boost to start your day right.
1. Get enough sleep
Being able to wake up early in the morning has its perks, one of which is better control over your schedule for the day. If you can wake up early in the morning – awesome! If not, that is also okay. People have different sleep patterns and rhythms. Whether you’re a night owl or an early bird, the most important thing is that you find what time you are most productive at and invest your hours into that period of the day.
The trick however, is to either go to bed early so you can wake up earlier in the morning or go to bed late and wake up later in the day, but in accordance to your schedule for the day. Some of the benefits of getting adequate sleep include a strengthened immune system, improved focus and better mood.
Overall, you want to strive for that balance where you get enough sleep while being able to do your work when you function best.
The benefits of exercising daily are innumerable. Exercise helps you fight diseases, increases your energy throughout the day and improves your mood by releasing the hormone serotonin. Biologically speaking, here is how this logic works: exercise increases your heart rate, which functions to pump oxygenated blood to your tissues and organs. A few side effect include an increased brain function and focus as well as an increased oxygen flow to the muscles providing adequate energy to do work.
Having trouble sleeping at night? Get some aerobic exercises in before bed, then thank me later. However, don’t feel you have to go overboard when exercising. A 10 minute jog, a walk, or any cardio workout will do. The key is to go slow and steady at first, then increasing the tempo over time until it becomes a habit. For starters, just grandma-shuffling through any of these also counts as exercise, as long as it gets your heart racing.
3. Pray or meditate
Prayer and meditation are a form of alternative therapy. Prayer has been in existence since the beginning of time and there is increasing evidence from decades of scientific studies that it works! Irrespective of your religion, the efficacy of prayer and meditation undoubtedly supersede the effectiveness of medications, especially when dealing with ailments of the body and mind like depression or anxiety.
Harvard physician Herbert Benson in his book The relaxation response discusses the correlation between health and prayer. At such times, the body’s stress level decreases from the lowering of the heart rate and the body’s metabolism to decreased blood pressure and a calmer and more regular breathing rate.
On a similar note, Dr. Andrew Newberg, director of the Center for Spirituality and the Mind at the University of Pennsylvania conducted a study of Tibetan Buddhists in meditation and Franciscan nuns in prayer where he found that prayer and meditation increase levels of the body’s “happy” hormone, dopamine. The goal is to set time aside in quietness, withdrawn from distractions to just focus on yourself and connect with a spiritual being.
4. Eat breakfast
Breakfast is indeed the most important meal of the day. Just as cars need fuel, breakfast also plays a similar role in helping increase alertness throughout the day.
Without breakfast, people may become irritable, lack energy or focus.
5. Drink warm water and lemon
If you’re unable to eat breakfast, gulping down a cup of water and lemon before dashing out can help you get a head start on a productive day. The warmth of the water aids in digestion and the lemon provides the body with Vitamin C, which gives the immune system an added boost, balances the body pH and clears the skin of blemishes.
So if you’re not able to have breakfast, this is a surefire way to re-hydrate and energize you before your next meal. Just don’t swallow the lemon!
6. Affirm yourself
Look in the mirror and smile at yourself for about 15 to 30 seconds. Yes, I know it sounds silly, but try it. Alternatively, if you feel embarrassed doing that, look in the mirror and speak to yourself words of affirmation like:
“I am beautiful”
“Today is going to be a great day’
‘I am an amazing individual”
“I have what it takes to succeed”.
Whatever mantra you choose to chant to yourself is guaranteed to not only boost your self-esteem, but also give you confidence throughout the day and help you overcome challenges as they come by. Words have power and can influence your mood. Choose them carefully.
7. Make a list of your top three goals
Make a list of the top three goals you intend to achieve for the day. You may have a long list of tasks that you plan to achieve, but worrying over those will get you nowhere. Narrowing down this list to three major goals will help you organize your day better, stay focused and get the most important off your list.
Habits take a while to form and require repetition. But these rituals are guaranteed to help you reach those goals no matter how difficult they may seem at first.
International Women’s Day is upon us! On March 8th, women all over the world will be celebrated as part of International Women’s Day. Every year, this day comes and goes, and sometimes we don’t even notice it. Or for those of us that do, we spend it doing the same thing – girl’s night! Spa day!
Now, there’s nothing wrong with any of these things, but for you, this year is a little different. Why, you say? Well, because this year, you have us at SLA to show you a new way of doing things to mix things up.
Below are 9 ways you can celebrate International Women’s Day this year in the least cheesy, least expensive, most fun way possible.
Spend time with your mum
Mothers are great, and honestly, they won’t always be there. This International Women’s Day, make the most of the time you have with the wonderful woman who bore you. Take her to her favourite restaurant, watch a movie with her, cook with her – however it is you usually bond.
You’ll be surprised by how much she’ll appreciate your spending time with her, and more importantly, how much you’ll learn from being with her. Parents have feelings just like us, and doing this would definitely create a greater bond between you two.
Celebrate with women you admire
If you have a mentor (which you all should have, but more on that later), this is the time to reach out to her. Mentor-mentee relationships should not be one sided with you always taking from your mentor. You should consciously seek ways to add value to the life of your mentor as well. On that day, treat your mentor to lunch or a coffee date.
If there’s someone else you admire who you haven’t yet built the mentor-mentee relationship, then this is a great opportunity to do so! Not only would the person be flattered by your thoughtfulness, you will also get the added bonus of a great conversation with someone you look up to.
Give back to other women
Get involved at an NGO or social enterprise that is all about empowering women and girls. Alternatively, you could even volunteer at your local community centre or help out at church.
The point is to find ways to reach out to women in your community who are in need of help or rehabilitation, and there are many opportunities to do just that.
Accomplish a personal goal
Remember that thing? That important-but-oh-so-scary thing that you’ve been procrastinating on? Yup, you know exactly what I’m talking about, it just came to your mind now. Yeh, so get.it.done.
There is no better way to celebrate than accomplishing a seemingly daunting task. The more difficult it seems, the better. Let your triumph be your gift to yourself this International Women’s Day.
Invest in your career
This year, Accenture is hosting an event to discuss issues centered on women in the workplace. If you’re in New York, Dublin or Sydney you can attend any of the sessions. Also, the event will also be broadcast online, so regardless of where you’re located, you should check it out.
For those of you interested in consulting, this is a great opportunity to connect with Accenture consultants and recruiters, even if you’re not able to physically attend the event.
Visit a local women’s day event near you
Between networking mixers, concerts and art exhibitions, there is a Women’s Day Event in literally every city. So much so that the UN has made our lives easier and compiled a list of all these events here.
The theme this year is #PledgeForParity, and so a lot of the events will raise awareness to the pay difference seen between men and women. There will of course be other issues involving inequality that will be addressed as well, but this would be a great time to learn some more about the problem and what we have to do to reverse it.
Support other women
There are many wonderful women doing powerful things, and we can all find ways to support their enterprises! This Women’s Day, visit that gallery run by that woman whose art you admire, splurge on that outfit by that designer you adore, download that innovative, game-changing app!
If you need inspiration, feel free to draw from one of the many entrepreneurs we’ve spotlighted here at SLA. Fortunately, there is an surge in talent and this trend is something we all want to see continue.
Learn about impactful women
I know, I know. I promised you a fun list, and here I am bringing homework. Since when was learning ever fun? But hang on there, it really depends on how you do it. Get a group of friends and make it a fun, interactive activity. (Games night anyone?) Play a game of trivia and discover who among you knows the most about famous women civil rights activists.
Here, I’ll even give you a few key starting points: Maya Angelou, Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti, Gloria Steinman, Nina Simone, Chimamanda Adichie. Winner gets bragging rights, and a bag of treats!
Spend it alone – Treat yourself by doing absolutely nothing
If you want to stay at home, basking in the presence of your awesomeness that is totally fine with me. Just make sure you commit and go all out while you’re at it.
If it’s going to be you and a book, don’t just stop there. Grab that book and curl up with a hot cup of tea, hot chocolate, biscuits – whatever your favourite comfort food is. If your thing is Netflix, you’re in luck, House of Cards will be back by then, so you have a long day of political drama ahead of you. But even better, you can watch a movie that passes the Bechdel Film Test.
This year, do things a little differently. Celebrate the powerful women in your life and yourself for being just that – powerful.
Many times, we find ourselves having a conversation with ourselves. We sometimes do it subconsciously but what you don’t know is, self-talk has a great impact on your life, your career and your business.
Your inner voice and what you tell yourself contributes tremendously to how you react to several things in your day to day life. Self-talk can be the negative self-talk or the positive self-talk.
As a business woman, I find ways to encourage myself on a daily basis. Whether I am exercising in the morning or heading into meeting, I find positive self-talk a great motivator. Words like ‘you can do it’, ‘blow them away’ and ‘go girl’ are words that I use to encourage myself to achieve goals I set out to do.
For instance, if you are going for a meeting, you check yourself in the mirror and think, ‘ I look so fat in this dress’ , don’t be surprised by how your day will start. You will be conscious of yourself, you will think everyone is looking at you and you will not exude confidence. You have brought down your self-confidence with negative self-talk.
However, if you step out and go‘ I look too good for them not to give me that deal’, you have already set a positive tone to your day. You will kick ass with confidence. You will feel good about yourself and it will show in your work.
Why is positive self-talk important?
1. Motivation and inspiration
When you say something positive to yourself, you not only motivate yourself to keep pushing but you also force yourself to act.
Whether it’s finishing a proposal late at night, or the early morning run, if you convince yourself with words like ‘I can do this’ or I can run an extra two miles’, you will find yourself achieving these goals because you inner voice is telling you to.
2. Build self-confidence
The positive inner voice helps you build self-esteem and confidence. Your words will make you feel good. When you feel good about yourself, the better your mood will be and your performance will greatly improve.
Confidence is very crucial especially in business as it enables entrepreneurs perform well in stressful situations. It enables them build networks with ease and helps them to sell their ideas and make others believe in them.
3. Being in control
Positive self-talk enables you to be in control. When you say ‘I am made to do this’, it trumps the negative self-talk that sabotages your day and distracts you as you work. With positive words, you are in control of the day.
Soon enough, you will find that with more positive self-talk, you will react to things differently. Things that used to make you angry will not annoy you anymore. When you are in control of your emotions , you are more likely to live a happy and fulfilled life.
We all struggle with the negative self-talk. The negative voice in your head sometimes comes out very strong and convinces you that you cannot do it. It creates self-doubt.
Have a mantra you can live by, and whenever you start listening to the negative voices, say it over and over again. Slowly, the negative voice will vanish.
Having been an entrepreneur running a market research firm for eight years, I did not give too much thought to how I would handle motherhood and work. Juggling, creating value, and keeping a keen eye on productivity were already familiar hurdles I had already crossed — or so I thought!
Very early into a somewhat complicated pregnancy, I knew that I would have to change certain aspects of my orientation if I was ever to be productive again; I don’t mean that as a hyperbole. Along with warmly welcoming motherhood, I was left wondering whether I could continue the business I had built.
While it has been and still continues to be a wobbly journey to finding my footing as a CEO mommy, here are several tips I’ve picked up along the way, which can help to keep the lights on even as your little bub requires more and more from you.
1. Compartmentalize your life
Divide your days and hours into blocks and devote 100% of your time within any specific block to whatever task you’ve assigned it. One of the great things about being a business owner is the flexibility it allows — you are not restricted to a strict schedule of work.
If you have to make dinner by 6pm, play peek-a-boo with bubba till 8pm, and then hit that laptop till 11pm, then do it. Trying to answer emails while playing peek-a-boo is the key to being frustrated and burning out. Whatever you set out to do, try to be present for the time assigned to it.
2. Delegate with gusto
It will not be perfect and it may take longer, but it will be done and sometimes that’s what’s most important. At work, break tasks into little bits and ask colleagues, friends, family — anyone— to help you get those little bits done.
At home, take the time to build a support system and don’t be shy to accept help from loved ones or to voice requests for domestic help — even if help doesn’t come in exactly the same format as it would if the task were completed by you.
There will be times when your spouse does not buy exactly the same diapers baby wears or the nanny does not feed the little one at the right time, but at least those tasks are done, and that truly is the big picture.
3. Ditch perfectionism
You will drop the ball. You will drop the ball more than once. There will be very little explanation (outside of yelling, “Can’t you see how busy my life is right now?”). Give yourself a little time to get back to your old levels of productivity.
Allow some lax time for deadlines and let those depending on you know that there will be just a little give or take. It is perhaps more important than ever to set yourself a task list except this time, success will look like crossing off two-thirds (or maybe even half?) of your list rather than the 100% get it done amazon that you are.
4. Prioritize Sleep
In this crazy world were everyone seems to be rushing to and fro, and there are incredibly much more tasks getting added than getting done, it may seem frivolous to be rigid about your beauty sleep. It is not.
Many studies have shown that sleep is one of the best ways to clear the mind (thereby increasing productivity), reduce stress, replenish depleted energy, and more (another is exercise). It can even help with weight loss!
If you are lucky and able, schedule in power naps and let everyone in your office know that you are not available during those hours. If you cannot, try to schedule in catch up naps during the weekend. Try just 20 minutes at a go for starters, and then increase gradually as you feel more confident about your sleep priority.
In the final analysis, what truly matters to all of us is that our loved ones are proud of us and proud of the person we’ve become along the way. No matter what your choices, your child will most likely look over your body of work and be proud of the courage it took to follow your dreams and fulfill your potential.
So don’t be afraid to explore and find your own rhythm —in whatever quirky combination— so long as it works for you and your family, then you will already be quite a success and inspiration!
Unless you have been living under a rock, or generally lack interest in everything pop culture related, you’ll have seen or heard about one of these shows: Grey’sAnatomy, Scandal, Private Practice or How to Get away with murder. The brain behind all of these television gems is Shonda Rhimes, the most powerful woman in television. She’s the first African American woman to run three consecutive shows on television’s most expensive real estate: Thursday night.
More than being an incredible writer, Shonda is also an example of what it means to be a badass leader and how to turn your dreams and aspirations into reality. She wrote a book recently called ‘Year of Yes’ and it is not only incredibly moving and hilarious. It also teaches many lessons about getting to the top in your respective field.
Here are 5 lessons from Shonda and her incredibly written female lead characters: Annalise, Olivia and Meredith.
Annalise Keating – Think on your feet
For those who follow HTGAWM (How to get away with murder), if there’s one thing we can learn from Annalise it is the ability to think on your feet. She is the fast-talking attorney on the show and is quick to come up with arguments to defend her clients. She ultimately created the twisted story that let her students get away with the murder of her husband.
Though a bit dirty and twisted, I still think there is a lesson here. In whatever field you are in, immerse yourself in it, so that you can draw from different aspects when you need to. Annalise knows the LAW. Therefore, she knows how to get around it and make it work for her.
You want to be an entrepreneur, but do you know the rules of the game? When you find yourself in a difficult situation, it’ll be those moments you had invested in knowing your craft that will get you through. Do the work, and when you do, be better than Annalise, and use it for good.
Olivia Pope – He is not the sun, you are
Arguably one of the most drawn out love stories in television history took a turn for the crazy when Olivia moved into the white house to be Fitz’s girlfriend. For those of you who don’t understand why this broke all of our hearts, it would be the equivalent of President Clinton moving Monica Lewinsky into the White House as his girlfriend at the height of the scandal. Yes, it was that crazy.
Although there is no doubt that Olivia loved Fitz, what became clear as she lived out the role of First Lady was that it was not who she was and she had the courage to do what she knew she had to: end it and move out.
The truth is, sometimes love is not enough. Your life goals need to be aligned with your partners, otherwise you will be betraying yourself. He is not the sun, you are!
We need to internalise this to be the Motherland Moguls we can be. There will be times when you will have to make sacrifices, but you should never have to sacrifice yourself. Remember that .ladies, and choose wisely. (Preferably not a married president like Olivia. Let’s try to keep it drama-free.)
Meredith Grey – It takes a Village
The saying ‘no man is an island’ has taken on new meaning as I have spent the past 11 seasons watching Meredith Grey go through all sorts of heart shattering life events in Grey’s Anatomy. Most recently (spoiler alert), she gets attacked by a patient and loses her hearing and her ability to move for weeks. She has 3 small kids! How will she survive? The answer is simple: she has a village of people who will do whatever it takes to look after her.
As I wiped my tears watching all of her friends step up to look after her and her family, I was reminded of how she did the same for each and every one of them at a different time. It makes sense. We cannot rise to the top alone, we need to realise that the people around us have a serious effect on our ability to reach our goals. Get your immediate circle right. And the best way to do that is to be the type of friend you wish you had.
This will heavily pay off in the future. Life is full of uncertainties and we cannot control what will happen. All we can do is put ourselves in the best position possible to deal with whatever life throws at us, and a huge part of that is the people you can call on no matter the situation.
Do you have those people? If not, are you that person to anyone?
From creator, Shonda Rhimes – Dreaming is for losers
This point for me was very difficult to internalise. I am a dreamer, it is in my blood. The phrase: ‘dream come true’ is featured on my blog over a gazillion times. Shonda as the badass leader that she is really burst my bubble on that one. The people who get things done are not the dreamers, they are the doers. Shonda explains:
‘I wanted to be Nobel Prize-winning author Toni Morrison. That was my dream. I dreamed and dreamed, and while I was dreaming, I living in my sisters basement (FYI dreamers always end up in a relative’s basement). I actually couldn’t be Toni Morrison because she already had that job and wasn’t planning on giving it up! One day I read an article that said it was harder to get into USC film school than Harvard business school. I could carry on dreaming or I could do. At film school, I discovered an entirely new way of telling stories… a way that flipped this switch in my brain. Years later, I had dinner with Toni Morrison. All she wanted to talk about was Grey’s anatomy. That never would have happened if I hadn’t stopped dreaming of becoming her and gotten busy becoming myself.
Rather than spending time dreaming about how we can be like the amazing women we admire, let’s get busy becoming our true authentic selves and doing things to bring our dreams to life. If you want to be an actress, rather than dream about it take classes. Are you putting yourself out there? If you want to grow your business into the world-dominating company, are you taking the necessary steps to get it there?
And lastly, a point from me.
Seun Awolowo- Be your own reference point!
There doesn’t have to be precedence for your idea or career path! No one knew a show with a diverse cast would last but Grey’s Anatomy is going on 12 years. There hadn’t been a black woman as the lead character on television since the 1960s, yet Scandal is a hit.
You can start your own first! You just need the right attitude, and the correct Shondaland tools in your toolbox to make it happen.
Superwoman your way to badassery ladies! If Shonda can do it, so can you.
Ps: Badassery= new word meaning knowing, accepting, and celebrating your gifts, living life with swagger, and not caring what anyone thinks about you. Add it to your dictionaries! It’s in mine.
Nigerian writer, speaker, and activist, Chimamanda Adichie, is beloved by many. The award winning novelist and Ted talk sensation is fiercely revered for being a thought leader on Africa and contemporary African politics. With her recent feature on Beyonce’s self titled album, Beyonce, many have come to know her for talk, “We should all be feminist”. But Adichie speaks on more fronts than one, from the personal and private to the institutional and public.
Below, we share 20 of our favorite quotes by Adichie that shed light on some of the topics and issues today’s boss women care about: being our true and best selves, navigating social roles, confronting gender and racial injustice, love and relationships, the motherland, and of course, money and being a creative. While short, each quote is steeped deep in history and context and is worth pondering over.
On being a powerful woman
1. Never ever accept ‘Because You Are A Woman’ as a reason for doing or not doing anything.
2. I want to be respected in all of my femaleness because I deserve to be.
3. Minister to the world in a way that can change it. Minister radically in a real, active, practical, get your hands dirty way.
4. Your standard ideologies will not always fit your life. Because life is messy.
5. Please do not twist yourself into shapes to please. Don’t do it. If someone likes that version of you, that version of you that is false and holds back, then they actually just like that twisted shape, and not you. And the world is such a gloriously multifaceted, diverse place that there are people in the world who will like you, the real you, as you are.
6. The truth has become an insult.
On Men, Love, and Relationships
7. Masculinity is a hard, small cage, and we put boys inside this cage.
8. Of course I am not worried about intimating men. The type of man who will be intimidated is exactly the type of man I have no interest in.
9. Please love by giving and by taking. Give and be given. If you are only giving and not taking, you’ll know. You’ll know from that small and true voice inside you that we females are so often socialized to silence. Don’t silence that voice. Dare to take.
10. Racism should never have happened and so you don’t get a cookie for reducing it.
11. The real tragedy of our postcolonial world is not that the majority of people had no say in whether or not they wanted this new world; rather, it is that the majority have not been given the tools to negotiate this new world.
On Gender and Feminism
12. I am trying to unlearn many lessons of gender I internalized while growing up. But I sometimes still feel vulnerable in the face of gender expectations.
13. Some people ask: “Why the word feminist? Why not just say you are a believer in human rights, or something like that?” Because that would be dishonest. Feminism is, of course, part of human rights in general—but to choose to use the vague expression human rights is to deny the specific and particular problem of gender. It would be a way of pretending that it was not women who have, for centuries, been excluded. It would be a way of denying that the problem of gender targets women.
14. Culture does not make people. People make culture. If it is true that the full humanity of women is not our culture, then we can and must make it our culture.
On Africa and being African
15. I recently spoke at a university where a student told me it was such a shame that Nigerian men were physical abusers like the father character in my novel. I told him that I had recently read a novel called American Psycho, and that it was a shame that young Americans were serial murderers.
16. They themselves mocked Africa, trading stories of absurdity, of stupidity, and they felt safe to mock, because it was a mockery born of longing, and of the heartbroken desire to see a place made whole again.
17. Because although there’s a lot of gender bullshit in Nigeria, I think women in the west have a lot more invested in being liked. And being liked if you’re female means a certain thing. So in workplaces, women who are bosses in Nigeria are fierce. The people who work for them, men and women, respect them. But, these are women who very keenly perform gender stereotypes when they go back home. And if they give a public interview, they have to say, ‘My husband supported me and allowed me to …’.
On Money and wealth
18. Creative writing programmes are not very necessary. They just exist so that people like us can make a living.
19. There are many different ways to be poor in the world but increasingly there seems to be one single way to be rich.
20. How can we resist exploitation if we don’t have the tools to understand exploitation.
Which of your favourite quotes by Chimamanda did we miss?
From the get-go, society encourages young people to learn quickly and strive to lead. We’re bombarded by mainstream notions on what it means to be a go-getter —a true leader. And, although these notions are true to some extent, they don’t necessarily encapsulate all qualities of bad-ass leaders in today’s millennial-driven world.
So, here is a list of 7 uncommon traits of impactful leaders and go-getters.
1. You’ve got a lot of fears
Fear is usually seen as a painful weakness and an inhibitor to leadership. Ironically, it probably has the opposite effect on you. Fear grounds you to reality. It makes you practical and risk-adverse. Fear acts a constant reminder of your limitations, but also reminds you that there are ways to work around them.
Fear empowers you. You’ve got high standards for yourself and those around you. You dream big. The stakes are higher and you may not have many resources at your disposal. But the role of fear in your life makes you incredibly ingenious, inventive, and a go-getter.
2. You’ve failed often and failed hard
Failure and fear go hand-in-hand. In the realm of impactful leaders and entrepreneurship, success is difficult and rarely guaranteed. Although failure might be likely, you don’t let the possibility stop you.
The great thing about being a 20-something is that you’ve got time and opportunity on your side. If you aren’t failing occasionally or at all, you’re doing something wrong. A life without failure is a life without risk. A life without risk is a life without measurable success. And is that a life really worth living?
3. “Disorganization” is your middle name
You probably have a written schedule that you never follow. You’ve got work assignments and projects strewn across your apartment. Your mind is a composition of deadlines, reminders, and goals to accomplish – high hopes and dreams.
You weirdly find order out of your chaotic life. The fact that you have a multitude of commitments makes you feel like you’re on track. Even if it’s in an unorganized way.
4. You’re not the loudest voice in a crowd
But you’ve often got something important to say. In any setting, what you comment on resonates with people, even if your voice doesn’t carry through the room. People tend to listen intently to those that speak softly or only on occasion.
With speaking, less is often more and you always use that to your advantage.
5. You hold unique perspectives
You always offer advice or insight that diverges from mainstream ideology. And although it makes you worrisome that your thoughts never align with what most people think, they’re often always valued by your peers.
People often ask you for advice and it usually catches you by surprise. You’re not convinced that you’re the leader in a group but almost always you’re nominated to take the role. You probably don’t realize you have a propensity to lead, but others probably do.
6. You put people first
A leader only gains presence through the conviction of her followers. You know this all too well.
The defining quality of a true leader is one who leads to allow others to take their place one day.
You hope to pass on what you’ve learned and are passionate about to the next generation.
7. You have no idea where life is taking you
Confused, disoriented, and possibly disillusioned with occasional quarter-life crises sounds a lot like you. You don’t have all the answers and you’re still on a steep learning curve. You don’t exactly subscribe to the 5-Year Career Plan and that’s OK with you because the world is your oyster, and you can do just about anything with it.
A life of mystery and unknown opportunity is what you’ve always sought out. You’re not sure if the goals you have now will be the same in the next two years. But you don’t mind because you live in the present. And, you live to lead.