To succeed in business, you need Self-Awareness, Client Awareness & Market Awareness – Nnanke Essien

Nnanke Essien is a HR professional and a business consultant. Her experience in business began when she was 14 years and helping her mom with her crayfish business.

Since then she has been a business partner to many business owners leveraging on her experience in providing strategy and human resource solutions for diverse industries including manufacturing, oil, and gas, consulting, communications, retail, energy, education, etc.

Her core is transformation, (people, process and culture integration) and her superpower is helping businesses with interventions for value-based/profitable visibility, resonance, growth, and sustainability.

In this interview, Nnanke Essien talks about her introduction to business consultancy and her just-concluded event for fashion entrepreneurs.


You recently organized an event for fashion entrepreneurs. What triggered it?

The dream began for me in December 2017, when I began to observe the behavior of attendees at a goal setting hangout. It was fascinating watching folks create their vision board by tearing pictures from magazines and posting them on cardboards.

My analytic head kept wondering if this was just a fun activity or it made sense to them.

I knew something had to prepare them for this experience to be worthwhile and useful and that thing was beyond the five-hour business lecture they had just received.

Fast forward to March 2018, one of the participants at the event sent me a lengthy message beginning with “coach how can I be visible? I have tried everything and nothing seems to work”.

I immediately put on my business growth doctor hat and began to teach.

I spoke to her about the psychology of her business, her products, her promise, the right platforms for her, promotion style etc

Alas! her reaction simply showed that what I was saying didn’t sound like the solution she wanted, she just wanted a quick solution to help her be visible.

How can fashion business owners optimize their businesses?

The fastest way to optimize your business is through service and collaboration – @gnnanke Click To Tweet

While growing up, my church used to be in a location where spare part dealers were dominant. I used to marvel at the apprenticeship structure, a young boy will learn and aspire to be like or even greater than his master.

Likewise, new fashion designers should take time to learn under someone they aspire to be like not for three months but for an extended period, where they can gain mastery.

There are a lot of advantages to this model. They gain undisputed mastery and get leverage riding on the positioning of that person they learned from. The market also trusts them faster and they have a reference point and a benchmark for success.

They exhibit great business success skills because of their learning process.

I don’t believe in quick fixes, I believe in sustained consistency over a period of time – @gnnanke Click To Tweet

You are guaranteed to get results. Don’t be in a hurry to get on the gram and then begin to run helter-skelter with the excuse that the fashion industry is over saturated

Know what you want to be visible for, find out what the leaders in your space have done to get to their positions, mirror them especially those that align with your values, get results and remain on top. 

The biggest question for me was “how can we be a part of the solution?”

So in 2019, we began planning in earnest, The business leaders breakfast meeting, a platform where we bring the best minds (leaders) in business to share insights and experiences as well as to equip business owners with knowledge that will prepare them for the massive opportunities in these industries.

The mandate for us was simply to create a market space that encourages inclusive growth especially in a challenging operating environment like Nigeria.

We positioned our platform as a catalyst (incubator) to help entrepreneurs have access to market, access to untapped opportunities, access to financial services, to even just dream big, know that their dreams are possible and position their brands for global leverage.

For us, It is our utmost desire to see SME’s go from struggling businesses to growing businesses, from no systems to systems of optimal productivity, from business underdogs to business leaders, from zero productivity to optimal productivity and finally, businesses that contribute strongly to the local and national economy.

We wanted to bridge the huge divide between business leaders and business freshers. To build an ecosystem of support, collaborations, and access to opportunities within and outside Africa.

We had Mai Atafo, Valentine Ozigbo, Joycee Awosika and Adaora Mbelu headlining our first event

What key lessons do you wish more fashion business owners knew based on what was learned at the event?

  1. Tie your fashion business to a bigger vision
  2. Be an endless learner
  3. Seek continuous improvement
  4. Focus on excellence and excellent service delivery
  5. Understanding your business model and reviewing it consistently is key..I can’t even stress this enough
  6. Stay on top of industry changes, be aware of global trends that impacts your business locally and adapt accordingly
  7. Network more
  8. Don’t be afraid to express your creativity because you assume the market won’t respond
  9. Don’t be afraid of collaboration and scale
  10. Keep your promise to your tribe, never compromise

The value pyramid is divided into three: the bottom 30% (no go area) the middle 70% (the average, normal space where most people play) and the top 10% (where the leaders play).

What’s your advice to a struggling fashion business

You don’t need more visibility or brand awareness storms (with loud music and an open truck) to build a profitable and sustainable business, what you need is people who can’t stop raving about what you do…

I call it “raveonance” rave+resonance.

You can’t achieve this without self-awareness (understanding why), client awareness (understanding the who) and market awareness (understanding the what and how).

The best place to start is to understand whom you do what you do best for, why you do it, know yourself and these people like the back of your palm and —then start creating something those people love.


Why Your Business Ideas Aren’t Working

By ensuring that your goals are S.M.A.R.T, you set yourself up to experience the thrill of an achievement that will become a motivation for future successes.

Did you know that you can give 110% effort and fail miserably, even with a good business idea?

I’ve seen it more times than I can count. An eager entrepreneur has a brilliant idea and quickly forges ahead, only to come back disappointed that things did not work out.

By the time they come to that realization, they have likely invested a lot of money, energy and time that they will never get back.

Entrepreneurs going through this experience usually assume that they are simply not cut out for entrepreneurship.

It is at this point that I dig a little deeper into their execution process and I find that the real problem was that the idea or goal was underdeveloped, leading to poor execution. It was a set-up for failure from the start.

I then have the task of talking the entrepreneur off the ledge by explaining that there may have been nothing wrong with their effort, resources or intentions. The reason for the apparent failure was likely that the goal was an inherently bad goal.

When it comes to execution in business, a good goal is not just noble in its intention, but it also S.M.A.R.T.

It is specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely. Ensuring that your goal meets these criteria increases the likelihood of success.

It eliminates wasted time and hones in on the best strategy for success.

Specific goals break down your general goals into manageable pieces so that they are easier to achieve. A great example of this might be to increase your annual revenue.

“Increase revenue in 2019” is a noble general goal.

An even better goal is to “increase revenue in 2019 by identifying profit leaks and creating monthly marketing campaigns in order to obtain new clients.”

Using that example, it’s easy to see how an entrepreneur can go from casting a wide net and taking a chance on what sticks, to identifying a specific strategy for success.

Even that specific goal can be further developed as you think about other factors that will affect the outcome.

By adding metrics and changing the goal to “increase revenue by 40% in 2019, by identifying profit leaks and creating monthly marketing campaigns in order to obtain new clients,” the direction and initial action steps are even clearer.

This way, there is little room for wasted resources and time.

The attainable and realistic factors in the S.M.A.R.T. formula are subjective factors determined by the individual’s readiness to start working on their goals.

An entrepreneur who does not have a marketing budget needs to first raise the money or create a budget for marketing before embarking on the goal above.

Without a budget for a robust campaign, attempting to increase revenue by creating marketing campaigns will prove futile.- @andrena_sawyer Click To Tweet

It seems obvious enough, but many entrepreneurs still do not count the cost before they set their foot on the pavement.

The last piece of the formula is timeliness. This ensures that the person setting the goal has a sense of urgency and can fend off complacency when working toward their goal.

It is easy to overlook this final piece, but it is just as critical as the others because it has two extremes: too much time allotted for the goal, and not enough time.

When there is too much time, it is easy to fall into traps of procrastination and complacency. These are traps that force individuals to believe they have more time to do the work than they actually do.

They lose their sense of urgency, which opens the door for others to leverage their ideas, or for a competitor to get to a product launch before they do. The other extreme is not to give yourself enough time.

No goal is perfect, and neither is every process, and there is room for imperfection. – @andrena_sawyer Click To Tweet

By rushing toward the goal, entrepreneurs stand the risk of sabotaging by not properly assessing the risks and all of the factors necessary for success.

After all, there’s value for the entrepreneur in trial and error and even failure.

However, by ensuring that your goals are S.M.A.R.T., you set yourself up to experience the thrill of achievement that will become a motivation for future successes.

3 ways to network in the diaspora

With the current online social media landscape, there is no excuse for not having a social network of people that you interact with and get inspiration from.

It is becoming increasingly important to have a social network of people who you can get feedback from, especially if you are an entrepreneur or are running a business in the African diaspora. Understand that it is important to keep the contacts in your network up to date because people often move from place to place.

There is a myriad of social media networks that can be used to build your network of potential business partners or mentors that you may need to get to the next level of success.

On the other hand, there is always the old school method of going to workshops or conferences to build that network of support as well.

Attend Local Conferences & Networking Events

One of the ways for creating a networking relationship in the diaspora is by attending conferences or workshops where people who are interested in similar things as you are meeting.

For example, there are Black Hair Expos that meet annually for people who are interested in all things concerning black hair.

These expos and conventions make it easier to start networking with people who have similar interests and helps in keep that connection going by attending those conventions annually.

Having a business card that you can exchange with people at these gatherings can be useful and a quick way to exchange contacts. Although it may be more difficult for people who live in the diaspora to attend such workshops and conventions, there are other ways of creating and building your network for potential future partnerships.

Esther Manuela- Shem at the Women’s Day Event

Use the Social Media Toolbox

Social media is now one of the most utilized tools for building a network. It is a crucial tool for keeping your network organized and up to date.

One of the more popular networks, Facebook, offers the convenience of having both a personal profile and a business page. With this feature, you can separate your more casual social media network from your business and professional network.

Other social media networks such as LinkedIn are tailored for business networking.

This makes it easier to navigate your network of people who are connected to you in a more business relationship or partnership. For people like me in the diaspora, social media is vital in helping us to connect with people who far from us in distance.

The opportunity to have a webinar or a “Google Hangout” to share ideas and discuss issues makes social media a handy tool.

Keep Up with your Network

In the diaspora, people in your network are prone to change location frequently. This can often make it hard to keep up with people and plan meetups.

The challenge in keeping up with people in the diaspora is that people are not always online at the same time due to time zone differences and other factors.

This becomes a challenge especially when you need to communicate or discuss a potential future partnership or need confirmation on a business deal in an instant. A good way to combat this challenge is by having a set time or schedule of contacting your network online and being consistent with it.

Most people check their messages after work or early in the mornings. By sending messages or jumping on a call with your network of people at a certain time every week. This makes it easier to keep up with the network.

Overall it is important to have an active social network while living in the diaspora. It can be helpful for building a business and having a network of mentors to communicate with


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WAMBUI GICHOBI: On a quest to travel the world with her project – #Adventure197. (49 countries down)

Wambui Gichobi is a visual media producer based in Nairobi, Kenya with Survival Media Agency. Over the last 8 years, she has produced short films on issues regarding adaptation and mitigation for environmental degradation and social justice issues.
While working with SMA, she is currently trying to travel to all the countries of the world with her project Adventure 197. She is currently on country number 49 and hopes to cover continental Africa by road.
 
Wambui is an Environmental Science graduate from Kenyatta University, Keny, and a keen environmentalist with a specific interest in climate change and media for climate change. For the entire time of her career, she has followed the yearly international climate negotiations creating media with SMA yearly for environmental awareness.
 
She has been at the forefront of environmental activities in Kenya, initially heading Sustainable Africa Youth Foundation (SAYF) in university, which promoted environmental awareness and tree planting, especially in schools. 
She has also worked for the National Environmental Management Authority (NEMA) and Kenya Wines Agencies Limited (KWAL) in the Quality, Safety, Health, and Environment sector.

Tell us about #Adventure197. What was your biggest motivation to start this journey to travel the 197 countries?

Prior to my decision to start Adventure197, I had traveled previously on work assignments.

In 2017, I read an article about Cassie De Pecol, who was the first documented woman to have traveled all the countries in the world.

Further research showed that they had been no black or brown person who had traveled all the nations in the world. Adventure 197 was born of the need to travel the world as a black person and show the world that it is possible for a black person to accomplish the same.

The visa processes are much more challenging while traveling with a Kenyan passport as compared to other travelers i.e. with American or European passports.

My biggest motivation is to prove that it is possible for a person, male or female, to travel the world.

How do you believe travel impacts you as an individual and a professional?

Travel has impacted me in very many ways.

As an individual, I have been able to build my confidence through meeting and interacting with new people and sharing our stories. Traveling solo teaches you to have fun by yourself and to bond with others.

It has also taught me time management. Prior to the start of Adventure197, I was always late to meetings and appointments. Being responsible for my own flight schedules, train rides among other details has taught me to be time conscious and manage my time effectively.

I have also learned to measure growth by the clarity of progress. Traveling to different countries is very quantitative and there is no grey area in the number of countries you have traveled.

This is a measure I have adopted in other areas of my life whether emotionally, financially, etc. It is important to be clear on the position you are at any particular point in life in order to measure your progress.

Having to fund my own travels have also taught me how to manage my own finances. I have to learn how to get the money I need and plan for all my expenditures and be financially stable while at it.

People and cultures differ from one place to the next and it is important to learn and take note of the important cultures of the place you are visiting. Additionally, I have also learned financial management in terms of what jobs to pick up as there is always a need to get more income for my travel.

Travel has impacted me in very many ways - @WambuiGichobi Click To Tweet

How do you manage work and travel at the same time?

When I traveled my first 14 countries, I held two jobs where I worked an 8-5 and also worked with Survival Media. I would schedule my travel to coincide with weekends and or public holidays.

In other instances, if my job with Survival Media required me to travel, I would apply for leave days at my 8-5. Most of my travel at this period was work-related.

When I made a decision to start Adventure197, I had to quit my 8-5 job. I currently work with Survival Media. The job is purely on an online basis and I will, therefore, go where the job takes me.

This has created flexibility in my schedule as I can work and travel at the same time.

In the first leg of my journey, I worked while I was in the United States at St. James, Louisiana, and also covered the caravan moving from Honduras through Guatemala in Mexico to the United States border.

Some of the benefits of my job are that I can pick up jobs from clients whenever duty calls or when the need arises. Once the job is done, I can then pick up from my current location and continue with my travels.  

As an environmentalist, you have purposed to offset your carbon footprint as you travel around the world, how do you intend to undertake this?

I am an environmentalist by profession and have been passionate about the environment from a very young age.

Through research, I discovered that most of my travels via air or trains would be very carbon intensive and I would have to offset as much of my carbon footprint as I possibly could.

I try to travel green as much as possible and in cases where this is not possible, I will try as much as possible to offset my carbon footprint. Cycling is one of the most effective ways of traveling green and this was very easy in the Eastern European countries where cycling is a huge part of their culture.

In addition, I have to be a mindful traveler which means traveling to countries close to each other thus reducing the distances covered by air or train and also avoiding plastic straws and Styrofoam packages.

My biggest motivation is to prove that it is possible for a person, male or female, to travel the world - @WambuiGichobi Click To Tweet

This is quite challenging especially in countries that package their food in Styrofoam which means that I have to research and try to find restaurants that will serve their food in plates rather than Styrofoam.

In order to determine my carbon footprint, I keep track of all the miles I have traveled and then get an expert to calculate my carbon footprint. I have set to offset my carbon footprint through the planting of trees which I started before I started Adventure197.

I have partnered with schools and individuals on tree planting projects. In my former primary school, I partnered with the school to plant mango and avocado trees on their land. I have also planted about 200 trees on our family land and over 1400 trees in a parcel of land that belongs to a friend.

I also plan to plant at least 1000 trees in Kirinyaga before I set out on the African leg of Adventure197.

What has been your biggest challenge meeting this target?

My biggest challenge has been getting land to plant trees. Most of my tree planting initiatives are centered on working with schools to plant fruit giving trees which are beneficial to the environment and to the school in terms of food provision.

I have come to realize that schools are very receptive to my goal of offsetting my carbon footprint and they will be willing to assist by holding tree planting initiatives.

49 countries down! What lessons have you learned and will carry forward to the next leg of your journey?

My biggest lesson so far has been “Don’t sweat the small stuff” and to always do my research. When I started Adventure197, I would worry about what to do and where to stay when I arrived at a new place. I have since learned to let go and enjoy my journey wherever I am at.

The second leg of my journey is to travel the African countries. I have traveled 10 so my goal is to travel the remaining forty-four.

In order to determine my carbon footprint, I keep track of all the miles I have traveled and then get an expert to calculate my carbon footprint - @WambuiGichobi Click To Tweet

What advice would you give to women looking to travel in terms of saving and planning for their travel?

It is important for people to travel solo. Solo travels will help you learn about yourself quicker, faster and much deeper due to lots of quiet time. You will get to learn about yourself and your character.

Additionally, it is important to save for your own dreams. Nothing in this world is given for free, you have to fund for what your dreams look like.

Here are my top tips for achieving this:

  • Be financially savvy.
  • Learn to manage your money and save whatever income you get whether you are earning at ten or fifty.
  • Have different accounts for different items and if you have plans for travel, have a specific account for this expenditure.
  • Invest and keep money aside. Whether for emergencies for your own dreams.

Any last words that you would like to share with our audience?

Of all the lessons that I want you to take home with you from my journey, the biggest one is to have a sense of confidence. You can achieve anything you put your mind to.

As an African traveler, there will be a judgment at every turn i.e. at the visa applications, airports but have the confidence to go after your own goals and dreams. I hope to inspire people whether male or female to travel.

In the words of Lupita Nyong’o “Your dreams are valid”


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Live the Life You Want: Become a Successful Remote Worker with these tips

Do you like having a flexible schedule? Want to be able to attend a yoga class in the middle of the day? Do you like wearing your PJs until 4 p.m.? Do you want to be able to travel and two weeks paid leave is simply not going to cut it?

If you have answered yes to any of these questions, you should consider working for a remote company or on a remote team.

Personally, I have chosen this lifestyle, and I am building a remote company called Baobab Consulting. My team spans four countries (USA, Senegal, Nigeria and South Africa) and even people based in the same country do not see each other very often.

.@lizgrossman87 shares some tips on how she's living her best life as a successful remote worker. Learn more... Click To Tweet

This structure has allowed the company to grow sustainably, cutting costs like office rental and transportation, which can allow for more exciting company retreats and meetings surrounding our projects.

While there are clearly many benefits to working remotely, there are certainly challenges too. Here’s how to set yourself up for success, produce results and make your mark in a remote position.

Be a self-starter

If you are someone who needs constant reminders or supervision to complete your tasks, you should find an office job. Remote work means you will not have coworkers eyeing your screen, and you will not have office chat or visible competition that will push you to get your work done.

You have to be able to motivate yourself to get up out of bed on time without an official 9 a.m. clock-in. (Although you can always check in from your bed when you work remotely!)

Be able to work random hours

Especially if you work on a global team, you will need to be prepared to take calls at strange hours. When everyone is home, our team time difference spans nine hours, and it gets even more tricky when we are traveling.

In order to make meetings happen, someone usually has to get up extra early or stay up very late. It is not uncommon to receive work calls/texts at midnight. Just make sure to balance your personal/work time and set yourself limits that make you and your family feel comfortable.

Have exceptional digital communications skills

 My team is constantly connected via WhatsApp, Google Suite, email, you name it. We are building systems that will allow us to all remain on the same page and keep our productivity.

If you are someone who prefers oral communication or hates texting, you will need to flex the digital muscles to be successful on a remote team.

Be disciplined and force yourself to have a routine

When you make your own schedule, it can be easy to have weekends flow into weekdays, to take long breaks in the middle of the day and work late hours in the night.

This is one of the major perks of remote work, but it can often be a trap that decreases productivity. Even though some remote companies may maintain a standard 9-6 workday, they do not build in a routine.

Decide on one that you can stick to that makes you feel professional and productive, but will allow you to live your flexible life.

Build a community at home

Most of our friends and family in more traditional office jobs are around other people for a minimum of 40 hours a week. It can become easy to rely heavily on them for normal socialization or to discuss work-related issues.

We are not trying to put too much pressure on our loved ones, so it is critical to find another social or professional outlet.  Go to a local coffee shop and meet other remote workers, join a co-working space, or even join social clubs to build relationships with like-minded people.

Build a community with your remote coworkers

At Baobab, we predominantly use WhatsApp for this. We send birthday shoutouts, selfies, articles and news that relates to our company values and team.

Also, the team uses social media to encourage one another and to share news about our team and teammates. We also plan biannual team retreats, where we bring as many people together as we can for work and recreation

Remote work is the future, and I encourage everyone to consider the benefits, but also the potential pitfalls.

If you are interested in joining a remote team, Baobab Consulting is always looking for talent, so please check out our website for more!


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Life Hacks you must Master to Help you Grow and Glow in Life

Life nowadays is more hectic, busy and can be downright overwhelming at times. A lot of us, if not all are itching for a time out or a method to handle the numerous demands life brings our way.

We need to be okay within yourselves and with those around us if we are to navigate this thing called life in a fulfilling and positive way.

A few life hacks I have come to find useful are listed below in no particular order – try to incorporate them in your own way and life as you know it may be a little easier to get through.

Network/Socialise more

I know, I know… an article like this, you’d think I’d be advocating for more alone time and silence, BUT more people time is actually not such a bad thing.

The reason I say this is because you never know who you could meet out there who could easily be the missing link you needed for a job you were looking for, a position you were looking to fill, a service you needed, a friend you never thought you needed, and possibly a life partner who would never be if you hadn’t gone to that event, that meeting or that party.

Growing your network is never going to be a bad thing and the more often you put yourself out there, you learn to network smartly.

Socialising more also helps develop your people skills, boosts your confidence and self-esteem and it helps you grow as a person.

There’s a reason the saying ‘no man is an island’ exists. Humans are co-dependent, we require interaction, connection, and engagement with others like us…

Get out more, interact more, connect more with like-minded people – it can be a literal lifesaver.

Functional Eating

We want to make 2019 our best year yet yes? So why not incorporate better eating habits to our lifestyle? It’s much easier said than done for sure but there are simple hacks that can help you achieve a perfectly balanced diet on a daily basis.

First – Control your portions

Using your hands will help you manage the number of carbs, veggies and protein and fats you ingest.

The rule is usually, a palm of proteins with each meal, a fistful of veggies, a cupped hand of carbs and one thumb length of fatty foods if you are adding fats to your meal.

It may read like a lot but if you think about it, it actually fills your plate with proper portions and you don’t miss out on the essentials.

Image by pelambung on Pixabay
Second – Drink your greens

Drinking your greens has got to be one of the easiest ways to get all the veggies you need into your system.

Celery juice is all the rage right now and for good reason – a hydrating juice with vitamin K, potassium and antioxidants that relieves bloating, helps with digestion and gives me an energy boost as well, where can I get one now??

It’s a perfect pick-me-up first thing in the morning, pushing the Apple cider vinegar phenomenon aside for a bit (not saying that it doesn’t have its benefits).

Green juices, especially those made at home with no artificial additives are great for you and fill you up, leaving no room for indulging in cravings. They give you all the nutritious elements you need and keeps your skin popping all day every day too, who doesn’t want that?

Put down the sugar-laden latte sometimes and pick up a green juice, or better yet a green smoothie that will keep you fuller for longer.

Third – Manage your eating schedule

Most of us have a 9 to 5 job which means we have to actively make time for meals – do it in a way that doesn’t add to your waistline but still fits in your schedule. Never ever miss breakfast.

Eat a healthy filling breakfast, be it at home or at work to avoid snacking badly throughout the morning hours. Carry packed lunches more often – this helps you avoid eating out and saves that coin as well as your diet. Drink more herbal teas instead of copious amounts of coffee.

Green tea, for example, is great because it keeps your metabolism going and still has a substantial amount of caffeine to keep you going for the day.

When you get home, have an early dinner, around 6 if you have a 10/11pm bedtime and a dinner devoid of starch if you can if you can’t – try to apply the hand portion control rule mentioned above.

Create Boundaries

As much as people time is necessary, protecting your space is also very key in getting through life. Creating boundaries with your friends, colleagues, family and everybody else you interact with is important as it keeps your sanity and lets others know you’re not one to be messed with.

Some people detect a weakness in someone and immediately use it to their advantage, therefore, making that person feel disrespected and defeated.

Boundaries at work help keep your working relationships strictly professional and keep your mind clear of any drama thus helping you focus on the task at hand. Boundaries with family members protect your peace, some relatives can be toxic and if you aren’t careful, it can put you in a negative space that doesn’t end well for either of person.

Create boundaries. Letting friends know the non-negotiables with you, and vice versa keeps you both accountable to the friendship. Click To Tweet

You love your family definitely but you also have a life to live and sustain, if someone is actively coming in between that in ways you cannot handle, it is okay to love them from a distance.

Friends are great and we all need that tight-knit squad we can always count on and trust. But we also need to make it clear when friends have crossed the line with us.

It’s never easy but some people can get too comfortable in your life and treat you in whatever way they like, thinking you’ll never have an issue with it.

Letting friends know the non-negotiables with you, and vice versa, keeps you both accountable to the friendship and in most cases, it helps cement the already great foundation of the relationship/friendship. It also helps you filter out the genuine people from the non-genuine ones as well.

Positive Financial Habits

We all like money, we all want more money but how do we utilize the money we already have? How often do you save? What do you do with said savings?

Financial responsibility is a harsh reality of adulthood and in this world of flashy lifestyles and doing everything for the gram it’s important to practice good financial habits. Saving and saving smart is one habit to incorporate this year.

You may want to finally move out this year, or finally go on vacation to one of the destinations on your bucket list or perhaps you want to get a car. All these things need money and a good chunk of it.

A good saving hack I picked up from YouTuber Shameless Maya was to always save 10% of anything you earn.

It can be more than 10% if you would like but it should never go below that, try it and see how much you save at the end of the year.

Image by loufre on Pixabay

Another positive financial habit is to immediately put money for all your bills aside as soon as you get paid.

You can put it in a separate account than the savings account so that the account is solely for bills. Once the 10% is put aside and this other amount is stored away to cover all the bills you have throughout the month, you are left with a nice little fraction for your monthly survival.

Usually, people tend to treat themselves to something once they get paid, either by going out or buying something nice which isn’t bad, but can also be avoided if your goal is bigger than that meal or those shoes or that one night out at the club.

If you focus on the end goal of where you want your finances to go, you’ll learn to compromise on the little things you spend money on like buying a coffee every day or eating out on the weekends or going out every other Friday.

When you’re in Greece giving us all the FOMO with your vacation pics, you’ll be glad you saved that 10% and carried packed lunch instead. Save those coins!

Unplugging

Social media is our new normal. We cannot seem to escape it and it’s been developed so much to a point where we somehow cannot live without it.

The baby boomer generation before us who never even understood social media are now the ones on Facebook and showing us YouTube videos and sending constant forwards on WhatsAppp.

(Thanks, but no thanks mum).

Unplugging is reiterated a lot more now because of how addictive the internet has become.

This is another life hack to keep your peace of mind and to give yourself a break from all the noise and chaos that is social media.

I think of social media as a machine that refuses to turn off, it is constantly on and constantly going and if you’re not careful it can swallow you up and spit you out in the worst way.

Social media is not horrible, not at all, but it can consume you very easily so taking time off it from time to time will give you clarity and calmness you never thought you needed in the already busy life you lead.

A simple hack I learned from a friend was to pick one day in the week to completely be offline from everything.

I chose Sunday. Every Sunday I switch off my data, wifi and I don’t get online for anything the entire day. If anyone needs to find me, they can just call or text me directly.

There’s no WhatsApp to keep me chatting, no Twitter to engage in and no Instagram to scroll through. At first, it feels difficult because you want to know what’s going on, you want to know what people are doing, where they are etc… but after one or two weeks of doing this, you actually anticipate that one day offline because of the peace that surrounds you.

You have a lot more time on your hands, you can get into other non-internet activities such as reading, cooking, calling up a friend to talk and catch up, going for a walk, spending time with your parents or siblings… you’ll start to realize how much you don’t do just by being on your phone/computer all the time.

Unplug. It helps you cancel all the noise in your head, for a while. Click To Tweet

You can do it for a day or a couple of hours, whatever you decide – try it and see how much fuller your life becomes with a simple break once in a while.

All these plus many more life hacks I’m sure you can add on here are just little ways to make your life a little easier, more manageable and just easing the stress of everyday life, in the long term keeping you happier and fulfilled.


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Boss Lady Series: How to Keep Track of Goals and Stay Fit with Ethel Cofie

Do you have a routine or a way to approach your day? Setting the tone for your day has a massive impact on how much you accomplish.

This month I will be showcasing the routines of several boss ladies who work on the continent. Learn how they balance working hard with staying on top of their physical and mental health.

By sharing our experiences, learning from others and deciding what works for us as individuals, we all can have a good life.


 Ethel Cofie has always admired people who had multiple jobs.  She has multiple interests and is involves in several companies.

Her work fits within three main buckets: women in leadership, entrepreneurship, and technology. In addition to having personal consulting work, running a technology company focused on digital strategy and transformation, she also runs an organization that empowers women around the world in the tech space.

How does she stay on top of her work and make her health a priority?

Ethel, constantly tweaking her approach to her professional and personal life, let me in on her secret to staying motivated.

To stay healthy and avoid binge eating, @ethelcofie travels with her own snacks and even hits the gym during work trips. Click To Tweet

Know what motivates you

Like many entrepreneurs, Ethel describes herself as ‘uber-competitive,’ but at the same time, no one tells her what to do.

She is always trying to be more effective, efficient and productive.

If you enjoy keeping track of your professional and personal goals like Ethel, you should consider using software like excel to keep track.

Ethel uses a spreadsheet to make sure she is on track with her goals and scores herself. Monthly she gives herself a score and daily she creates a to-do list that has up to 3 priorities.

All her workouts are tracked in Apple Health so she can maximize the 30 minutes she dedicates to running each day.

Visualize your success

Success means different things to everyone but being clear on what you want will make it easier for you to attract it.

Ethel takes this one step further by spending a few minutes each day before she starts work to visualize things that she will be able to do when she achieves her goals.

Recently, Ethel has been spending time imagining how much fun it would be to take her immediate and some of her extended family on holiday. This keeps her motivated and focused.

Make your health a priority

The first thing that Ethel does in the morning is put on her running clothes.  Once she has them on, she is ready to go.  She swears she is not a morning person, but that she has just adjusted.

She is just as dedicated when she is traveling.  The first thing Ethel does when she gets to a hotel is asking where the gym is.

She tries to keep her workout routine similar to what she does at home.  She spends about 30 minutes running on the treadmill and about 20 minutes doing weights.

Learn from others

Find people to look up to online and offline.  Ethel gives credit to productivity books for ‘curing’ her of wanting to do everything.

She recommends starting with reading Essentialism – The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown or Radical Focus: Achieving Your Most Important Goals with Objectives and Key Results by Christina Wodtke.

Online she tends to focus on accounts that are effective in spreading knowledge and provoking conversations like Dr. Ola Brown (Orekunrin) and Victor Asemota.

Concerning working out, Ethel is inspired by Michele Obama’s arms.

Find someone that you look up to or inspires you to keep you on track with your goals - @ethelcofie Click To Tweet

Make the most of your trips

Ethel packs last minute for trips but plans out almost everything else including snacks. She tries to get in touch with people who will be at the conference she is attending.

About a week before the event, she will get in touch with other speakers and schedule meetings.  If she is speaking, she starts practicing about a week before as well. To keep herself from binge eating, Ethel travels with her own snacks.  If she is not able to get the cereal or energy bars she likes, she brings along milo.  Eating these snacks keeps her from eating unhealthily and drinking coffee.

By keeping track of her progress and planning ahead, Ethel is able to make the most of her time.  Even if you don’t like using elaborate excel sheets or tracking software, just knowing where you started can keep you moving forward.

How do you plan to push yourself? Do you do anything to hold yourself accountable? Read our Good Good Living Part 3 series w/ Maya Horgan Famodu


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Boss Lady Series: How to Maximize Your Week with Maya Horgan Famodu

Maya Horgan Famodu came to Lagos about four years ago and knew no one.  She had no connections and no start-up capital.

What Maya had was an idea and the drive to establish Ingressive, a venture capital fund and a fantastic team that is building tech ecosystems across sub-Saharan Africa.

Even if you are just starting out in Lagos, she told me, “…you can do whatever you want here. Don’t let someone tell you aren’t good enough or that your profile is not typical. You can create the space of your industry, and you can get it done.

Start now before you are crazy busy to develop good habits - @mayahorgan Click To Tweet

She has come a long way from when she started her business.  She has gone from working all day and week on her business to figuring out how to break up her day and week into manageable pieces, so she is not only successful professionally but has time to follow her non-business-related interests.

Maya shares how she spends her weekend and has some suggestions on how to balance your work with your other passions.

Divide up your week so you can tackle all aspects of your professional life

If you are like Maya and you tend to get very involved with details, you can schedule out your week with specific tasks, so you are forced to focus on every aspect of your business or position.  For example, Maya focuses on internal team meetings and planning on Monday.

Her Tuesdays are for reviewing the companies she works with. Wednesday is for external meetings and networking. Thursdays are for dealing with paperwork and reviewing internal processes.   Similar to Wednesday, Fridays are for business development.

She usually attends extended in-person meetings that might lead to a relaxing dinner or drinks. You can use Google Calendar to help you stay on track of your critical daily work themes across the week.

Make the most of Your weekend

Maya used to spend a lot of time going out but realized as a Lagos transplant she needed more time to reflect and rejuvenate in her favorite spaces so she could be her best.

If she is not hanging out at her house or at the beach, she will only schedule meetings with individuals who she has both professional and personal relationships with.

She calls Saturday her ‘Enjoyable Partnerships Day.’  

Give yourself some quiet time, but start small

She has learned that she needs time to rejuvenate to be at her peak.  Maya plans to attend yearly quiet retreats that can last up to ten days.  She tries to incorporate some of the same techniques into her life in Lagos. Her Sundays are entirely offline.  

She doesn’t check her emails or phone and might do some offline planning for the week. She also spends time reading and writing. She has found that when she reflects, she has space to think about new ideas.

You might not be able to take ten days off or even an entire day off your social media, but you can start small.  Maya starts off her day mediating, and you can start off by meditating for a few minutes to work your way up to 1 hour.

Maya suggests waking up an hour earlier, she usually is up by 7 am, during the work week to get in some silent time.

Make the most of your tribe: Find Your Core People

When she is not working, Maya spends most of her time by herself or with one to two people. She credits her tribe with helping her get through the good and tough times as an entrepreneur.  She suggests that you surround yourself with the right people. Focus on quality, not quantity.   

You should have one to three people you can call on when things go poorly or that you can lean on - @mayahorgan Click To Tweet

Maya suggests having advisors you can turn to for your business or professional career and then emotional support, people who can tell you everything is going to be ok or set you straight.

My biggest takeaway from Maya was the idea that you should start now before you are crazy busy to develop good habits.  You don’t have to spend 24 hours working. Entrepreneurship and life, in general, is a marathon. If you want to do it for the long term, you need to set yourself up for success.  Developing the right habits and routines can help with that.

How do you plan out your week? Are you making sure to include time for your other interests?

Want to learn how to build a health-conscious routine? Read our Good Good Living Part 2 series w/ Funmi Oyatogun


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6 ways to tone down your stress levels

It is not uncommon to see someone you know, perhaps your friend, a family member, or a colleague whose demeanor is looking unusual, and you show concern by asking the question: ‘why is your appearance looking so dull today?’  and their reply goes ‘it is stress’.

Recently, I attended a meetup where young women discussed ‘creating balance’. In the heat of the discussion, one woman mentioned that she was on an official assignment to a psychiatric ward and found that the leading cause of psychosis in women admitted was stress.

I was both alarmed and pained.

The term stress seems to be something everyone takes for granted but its effect on our physical, emotional and mental well-being is often disastrous.

More women than men are prone to stress partly because besides the everyday hustle to support the family income is the added responsibility of taking care of the home front.

Many studies have confirmed that stress could lead to deli-bating diseases like high blood pressure (which is constantly on the rise in recent times), heart attack, nervous breakdown, and many others. Hence, there is an urgent need for us to take the matter of stress very seriously.

On the scale of 1 - 10, how high is your stress levels? @awunliwomanup highlight 6 ways to manage stress. Read more... Click To Tweet

Stress cannot be eliminated completely, however, here are six ways to manage it.

KNOW WHEN TO LEAVE WORK BEHIND

Some women are naturally workaholics, while others are in the hustle just to outdo their contemporaries in terms of material acquisition.

Whichever end of the divide you find yourself, be kind to your health and long term well being, you have to know when to stop.

LEARN HOW TO RELAX

Some people know when to unwind after a hard days job while some people see it as unnecessary. For example, I have a friend who stays glued to his laptop watching one series or the other after work and I get so angry until he explained that it was one of the ways he cools off after a hard days job.

Whatever works for you, make sure you go for it.

STRIVE FOR BALANCE

It has been emphasized more often than not that being busy does not translate into being productive. To increase your productivity, prioritize your activities and determine when you have reached your limit.

ASK FOR HELP

This is especially for those who have the perfectionist syndrome. They believe no one can do it the way they can. Sister, if anything happens to you, there will be someone else who will do the job better than you, so put your health first.

Leave those things you can delegate to someone else at work, outsource some tasks if you can afford it, and ask family members and friends to help out as a way of reducing your workload.

PLAN AND PREPARE AHEAD

We all know how what last-minute tension feels like. you begin to sweat profusely, you get jittery all over. To avoid this kind of scenario, do things well ahead of time.

LET GO OF WORRY

I have a friend who says worry is her recipe for losing weight.

Worrying over an issue does not get the problem solved. Worry and anxiety tend to the release of stress hormones in your body. Rather than worry, pray, believe and take the steps you need to solve the problem.


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Boss Lady Series: How to Balance Social Media, Life & Business with Funmi Oyatogun

Funmi Oyatogun is a geographer and experienced designer. Her two identities feed on each other.  She loves exploring the world and sharing her knowledge with others.

She has built her business, TVP Adventures, using social media, primarily on Twitter. With her content and company, her goal is to open up the African continent for the world.

I had a chance to talk with Funmi about how she balances building her business, remote team, and social media following working from her home office.

In this month of #GoodGoodLiving, @funmioyatogun shares how she's balancing social media, life and business. Read more... Click To Tweet

Here is what we can learn from her…

Visual person? Write things down

Funmi has found that writing things down in her physical planner helps her stay on track of her work and relaxed.  The night before, she finalizes what she will focus on, and writes down any new appointments for the next day.

She writes everything out nicely in her planner and arranges them in order of importance.  She also uses symbols to help her categorize her tasks. You can make a routine of writing out your work in planners therapeutic, using fun colorful pens and even stickers.

Work from home? Create a separate home office

One of the first things Funmi learned when she set up her business was that she should not work on her comfortable bed.  She then got a desk and chair in her room but still always wound up in her bed.

She decided that it was necessary that she physically travel to another space in her house.

The physical transition also helps her get into work mode. She finds it easier to concentrate and has fewer distractions in her home office. Funmi also recommends that you put up your goals and or vision board somewhere you can’t escape it.  

As she spends about 8 hours in her office, she has a comfortable swivel chair and a space that helps her stay productive and creative.

Social media critical to your success? Schedule it

Funmi’s business started and relies heavily on social media but she is still learning how best to balance using it with getting her other work done.

She tries to engage with social media first thing in the morning and later in the day, giving herself a large chunk of time in the middle of the day to focus on other work.  Like Funmi, you should try these 4 tips to keep from mindlessly scrolling through social media:

  • Plan content in advance ‘when your brain is fresh.’
  • Try to respond only to important notifications throughout the day
  • At the end of the day, skim and select direct messages to answer.  Not all messages deserve your attention
  • Focus on responding to longer threads and comments at the end of the day

Know thy energy levels

Perhaps the most common theme throughout our conversation was the importance of knowing when to do certain types of work.  

Funmi wakes up very early. Even if you don’t plan to be up at 4:30 am, you can still plan your day around when you do your best work and feel most productive.

She knows that it is best for her to do mindful tasks that require a lot of brain power and creativity in the morning. She finds that the stories she produces in the morning are drastically different from later in the day.  

As her energy wains throughout the day, her brain slows down by 4 pm, she focuses on tasks that are more routine.

If you don’t take care of your body, it won’t take care of you - @funmioyatogun Click To Tweet

Remember to recharge yourself

Funmi spends a lot of time giving out and sharing her thoughts and content. After completing routine tasks, Funmi starts ‘feeding’ herself by reading, catching up with the news and watching documentaries.

She makes sure to feed herself (literally) three times a day. She works out with a trainer in the morning first thing at last three times a week as well.

During our conversation, she warns, if you don’t take care of your body, it won’t take care of you.

How do you balance the creative process of developing content with responding and reacting to posts and comments?  Do you make sure to ‘replenish’ yourself after spending all day posting and giving yourself out?

Want to learn how to build a health conscious routine? Read our Good Good Living Part 1 series w/ Yasmin Kumi.


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