So, you want to start a career in education

When I was younger, the word education for me meant receiving instruction and strict teachers who I call, ‘madams’. In my naïve little world then, I equated education to the tutelage received from angry looking madams that always dressed appropriately. It was these madams that instilled the pride associated with accomplishing basic goals in reading and writing in us. They were the women who allowed us to proceed through the next grade, form and eventually to college.

With time, I realised that lessons from the madams was just one aspect of education. There are also policy makers, administrators, researchers, project analysts, area experts and numerous education development practitioners at different levels. These experts work towards collectively improving the quality of teaching and learning in any system.

The process that leads many to the teaching vocation is pretty clear and straightforward to some. However, having realised the versatility of the sector, I concluded that there was no one formula to getting ahead in education. Rather, there are certain basic principles that you need to follow to launch and maintain a successful career in education.

Passion is half the battle won

I am a strong believer of the mantra, “passion is half the battle won”. When you are hungry and starving for a specific goal, you are more likely to be successful. When you have the drive to achieve something, you will chase after the best results. You won’t rest until you have left your mark in your specific area of interest.

Start with the basics

Basic education in your area of choice is the much needed support structure to quickly launch your career in education. Many people go for any first degree and then struggle towards getting employed after. Don’t be one of them. You should carefully choose what course to enroll in at uni considering the area you’d like to be an expert in.

While receiving basic instruction in your field of interest, you will learn the theoretical aspects of your trade. This will be what you put into practice once employed. Volunteering as a student also allows you to put into practice what you’ve learned at university and to start creating a name for yourself in your industry.

Write academic papers

Researching and writing academic papers on your subjects of choice is what will turn you into a specialist. While everyone has an opinion on educational topics, it takes a well recognised author, who has done the research (be it primary or secondary) on specific aspects, and produced papers with demonstrated and verifiable results to be taken seriously.

It is the specialists that get to influence the decisions of policy makers and development agendas. They are also the ones who guide the way other academics think and move in the education sector.

Be dynamic

As the world is dynamic and constantly changing, any career path has to be similarly open to change. It is key to keep up with innovations in the education sector so as to remain relevant. For example, the increasing use of the internet to disseminate information on subjects should be taken into account for career development. Online courses make it easier for students to familiarize with their field of choice and areas of growth and opportunity. This can be employed by educators to spice up their trade.

Key steps to finding your voice

Like many girls and young women growing up in a patriarchal culture, I embodied this “less than” attitude as I grew up. While women are leaders in many regards, there is still a shadow that we live under. Women may have the education, the experience and the drive to successfully guide a team of people but still lack a well defined voice (and no, not “voice” as in Tenor and Bass).

Voice in this case is an extension of the person. It’s their brand, their way of doing things, their expertise and how it is communicated. Those who show strong leadership skills have often developed this sense of voice throughout their careers. For those who haven’t, it may be time to examine it further.

Determine your voice

A women, we need to be familiar enough with our voices to know how we come across to peers, staff and clients. Our personal set of values is directly connected to this, what we stand for, our values, what people can learn from us.

There is a need to be clear and concise about your voice, your stance and your ideas, and be sure that everything you do and say aligns with that.

Look for inspiration

There’s no shame in admiring the qualities of others, whether it’s a family member, a mentor, an industry leader, an iconic figure or a celebrity. Observe them closely. Have conversations with those you have access to.

For those whom you don’t have access to, watch their public appearances and read their writing. Find them wherever they are, in business, politics, sports, TV and note down the characteristics that appeal to you. It is not enough to just admire someone, figure out what it is about them specifically that draws you in. Note their confidence, their ability to build relationships, their network, their charisma, their intense knowledge of a particular area. Identify what intrigues you and roll with it. There’s no need to reinvent the wheel.

Experience matters

All the important lessons learned throughout the beginning and progression of your career are a part of your professional voice. The decisions you’ve made, the wins and the losses, they help to make up who you are.

One of the common mistakes women make is we feel that because we have a seat at the table and we say something, everything is good. It’s important for us to know that having a voice really means having a track record of success and accomplishments. That people want to listen to what you have to say because you’re saying something of value. So, use your voice and use it strategically.

Experiment

For those women leaders looking to evolve, especially those in the younger end of the workforce spectrum, it might be time for experimentation. Identify low-risk scenarios in which different approaches are feasible. For this experiment, try to make a decision with consensus, then in an authoritative tone and then one in the middle. After doing this, it will become clear what style fits you.

You don’t have to do this in a high-risk client situation or in front of venture capitalists who will determine your funding future. Try making a plan with friends, getting your children to do what you need them to do, or sitting on a non-profit committee. Practice with your spouse, your friends, or your network. Just like building a business, this is a process. The earlier you are in your career, the more latitude you have to experiment.

Your voice and leadership matters.

When you begin to speak out for what you believe in and use your voice without apology, you not only empower yourself but all women and girls. You become a role model, and girls everywhere can begin to see themselves as leaders.

You might not get it right in the first year, the first business, the first finance pitch, the first launch, or maybe even the second or third.  But awareness is the first step.

5 things you should be doing after work hours to be successful

If you don’t know that the time you spend outside the office has a big impact on your career, you really need to. When you return home after closing at work, the first thing on your mind may be rest, food or curling on the couch to watch reruns of “Grey’s Anatomy”. Don’t do it. Time is very precious and if you’re aiming to be highly successful in your career, every minute counts including the time you’re not in the office.

We’re not saying you should have work on your mind 24/7, but what you do after office hours can either build your career or hold you back. Highly successful people know this and that is why they engage in some of the following activities when work is closed for the day.

1. Work Out

There is a reason some Japanese companies host exercises for their staff. Working out keeps you alert and is a great stress reliever. It’s also a  great way to regain the energy that literally drains from you while you’re seated at your desk for hours on end. Exercising helps to increase your productivity which ultimately gets you working towards your career goals.

2. Network & Connect

Networking is an important after work activity. But there’s good networking and there’s not so-good networking. The former gives you the chance to engage in deep, meaningful conversations with others. We’ll leave you to guess what bad networking looks like. If you have the opportunity to network after work, grab it with both hands! Connecting with colleagues, friends and/or mentors may even lead to brilliant ideas that could positively impact the course of your career.

3. Unplug

Turn off everything, your laptop, your TV, your phone, your iPad too. You need time away from devices and the Internet to renew your mind, body and spirit. The close of a work day provides a great opportunity to unplug and ensure work is left behind at the office. If you find yourself bored while unplugging, meditate or read. The most successful people are known to always read books, fiction and non-fiction alike.

4. Make plans for tomorrow

It’s best practice to plan ahead for the following day. Review your calendar every night and ensure you have everything ready for tomorrow. Check through so you have enough time to notice if anything is missing and then get things in order. This saves you the stress of panicking in the morning because you forgot something important.

5. Don’t forget to sleep

Highly successful people sleep for more than eight hours. It’s true. Don’t be under the false impression that staying up late is good for you or your career. Adequate sleep is a wise career choice, if you’re not getting enough sleep it could affect your judgement and mood. Even worse, chronic sleep deprivation can lead to serious health problems.

What do you spend your time doing once you’ve closed from work? Kindly share them by leaving a comment below.

What you need to get the most out of your mentor

she hive nyc mentor

Behind every successful woman, is a mentor. Someone who, at some point in their lives, helped guide them in achieving their own goals and dreams. Have you ever wondered how most world-leading entrepreneurs or business women became successful? The common myth is always that it was effortless –involving the least amount of struggle. That myth is never ever true.

At the beginning of a career, or at the start of a new business, you may find that you are unsure of how to and pursue your dream. You have the end goal in mind, but the process of putting it into effect and finding direction can be a huge mountain to climb. Although learning through experience on your own is important, getting guidance on how to pursue your goals intelligently can very helpful. Having a mentor who can help guide you through the stages of your career does make it a little bit easier.

First set your goals

Mentorship, whether in entrepreneurship or corporate, is based on the same core principles. It is to create a relationship for the betterment of you, the mentee and your mentor. It’s extremely important that both parties create an environment of learning and growth.

With this environment in mind, both your mentor and you should work together to set your mentorship goals for short, medium and long term. Giving yourselves goals helps in keeping the relationship from becoming too lax in achieving any kind of visible growth. It also sets the stage for a great working relationship. From my own experience, a good mentor also wants to see the goals you want to achieve. This helps them get a better view of how to can help you. One of the most important things a previous mentor taught me is the importance of putting your goals onto paper. And it works!

Goal-setting will give you the opportunity to identify where your life is life to be heading. In turn, goals and expectations give both you and your mentor a common understanding of what the relationship is meant to achieve.

Adding detail to your short, medium and long term goals will be beneficial in creating your career development plan. This plan can be used as a guide. It will allow you to communicate clearly what you want to achieve in a specified amount of time, and have your mentor to help you achieve those goals in the most focused way possible. Having a plan in place, and having a mentor guiding you through your growth process can help you grow. This will get you to where to where you want to be faster than you thought.

Then establish a relationship

In order to establish a good mentorship, and for you to be able to succeed in the industry of your choice, some important factors should be considered:

  • Receiving valuable advice: You receive valuable advice from your mentor. As the mentee, you gain insight from your mentor into your ideas. Not only that, you get help on using that advice as a guide to achieving your goals in the most efficient way.
  • Assistance with building strengths and overcoming weaknesses: As part of the goal-setting exercise between you and your mentor, you’ll need to discuss ways your mentor can help you overcome weaknesses and build strengths. Identifying your skills and competencies will help you know where your strengths lie.
  • New ways of thinking: A mentorship allows for a way to bounce ideas off each other and gives you an opportunity to discover new ways of thinking.

Win-win for both

A mentorship should be a win-win situation. Both parties should be fulfilled in the mentorship.  The mentorships that work are usually between people that want to make the relationship work. You will need to be engrossed in the growth of your career. And your mentor should have a sense of fulfillment from helping an up-and-coming young person. If it isn’t fulfilling both parties, then it makes no sense to waste each other’s time. A mentee and mentor need to find a formula that works for them, and stick to it.

One of the biggest mistakes you can make as a mentee is thinking that the mentorship is one-sided. Inasmuch as you approach a mentor to learn and grow, the same applies for your mentor as they too have goals to pursue. Just as you receive the chance to learn from a more experienced individual, your mentor will receive an opportunity to pass on what they’ve learned in life.

4 things you can learn about branding from Yemi Alade

yemi alade branding

Yemi Alade does not need any introduction. Raise your hand if you start singing the words to “Johnny” anytime you meet someone called John. For some of us, it is difficult to remember how Yemi Alade was before the Johnny era.

The mere mention of her name conjures up a certain image. That is her brand. Since rebranding herself, Yemi Alade has reached new heights of stardom with fans across Africa and beyond. She has a lot to teach us about branding.

1. Find a style that is yours…

A successful brand is a brand that is unique. When you’re building your brand, first things first is  discovering what you are doing that others in your industry aren’t. What makes you special and different from everyone else? You may need to add some colour and give your brand a personality that everyone will remember.

Yemi Alade’s edgy sense of fashion just stands out. She has emerged with unique and quirky styles that immediately jump at you. Yemi Alade has described herself as a fashion chameleon, her style is at once easy, simple and edgy. When it comes to fashion, no one else in the Nigerian entertainment industry is doing what Yemi Alade and so effortlessly too.

2…then stick to it

Let’s talk about hair. When you think of Yemi Alade what hairstyle is she rocking? The “pineapple” hair-do has become Yemi Alade’s signature. She has worn it in different colours and added little variations to it along the way. Others might consider sticking to one hairstyle boring yet, a branding essential is consistency.

You have to be consistent in what you do and/or offer. Consistency reinforces the value of your brand. Yemi Alade has been consistent with her pineapple hairstyle and it links back to her style as being part of her overall brand.

3. Show off your best work

When building a successful brand ladies, you’ll have to pay attention to positioning. Once you have put a message out there you must avoid changing it easily. Otherwise you risk confusing your customers. Pay a visit to Yemi Alade’s Twitter page and right there you will see #Johnny. This is a very important branding strategy.

“Johnny” is Yemi Alade’s most successful hit yet and by putting it on her page, she is ensuring that anyone who is a fan of the song will associate it with her. In this way, “Johnny” is now part of her brand, more so than other songs she has released. Using your best work is a great strategy for branding.

4. Don’t be afraid to venture into unknown territory

In finding out what makes your brand unique, you may need to push yourself. Think outside the box, be innovative and bold, be daring and most importantly make sure you are standing for something you believe in.

For me, one more things comes to mind when I think of Yemi Alade; multilingual. She sang a French remix of “Johnny” and brought on a popular French zouk artist for a remix of “Kissing”. Going further she released a Swahili version of “Na Gode”.

Yemi Alade has taken her brand to entirely new levels by speaking to audiences in their own languages. Her brand communicates with fans across borders, something that the only most successful brands accomplish.

What else do you think aspiring #MotherlandMoguls can learn from Yemi Alade? Kindly let us know in the comments section below.

 

Yasmin Says: How to make your network your net worth

She Hive Lagos participants

We’ve all heard the phrase “Your network is your net worth.” And though, it may seem like one of those cheesy phrases that’s only appropriate for fridge door magnets and tacky self-help books, its 100% true. For young entrepreneurs like us, networking is especially important for a couple of reasons:

  • As you grow your network, you’ll hear more and more about interesting and unique opportunities
  • It’s a good opportunity for you to practice your communication skills

There are a number of different ways to network but today, we’re going to focus on how to #WIN at a formal networking event. Formal networking events are tough for us because both Afua and I are true introverts. So, even the thought of having to spend an evening talking to people we don’t know exhausts us. That said, sometimes, it’s got to be done. So, it’s best to be prepared.

Come with a game plan

You’ll never have a chance to speak to everyone, and if you’re able to preview the guest list before hand, come with a clear list of the people you’d like to speak to. If Afua and I are going to a conference, we’ll do more than come up with a target list. We’ll also prioritize the list so we have people who we MUST connect with vs. people who’d be nice to chat to.

Once we have that list, we create a spreadsheet with these key pieces of information.

1. A few points on the person’s background

Knowing a little bit about them will make it easier for you to strike up conversation. I was at a conference two years back and really wanted to meet the CEO of a large African bank. I did a bit of research and found out that he’d given a really interesting talk on Gender Equality. So when I went up to introduce myself to him, I opened with

“Hi Mr. X, my name is Yasmin. I watched your talk at XYZ about gender equality and found it so inspiring.” And on the conversation went.

2. Why we’d like to speak to them

It’s important to be clear (if possible) on why you’d like to talk to someone. It helps you steer the conversation in the right way and tailor your pitch appropriately.

So, if I’d like to speak to someone about being a pitch competition judge, I’ll start off talking about our awesome pitch competition, the other judges we’ve had and how much fun those judges had. If I’m talking to someone about sponsoring our event, I’ll focus more on talking about the SLA community – growing it is. See the difference?

PS: This isn’t being disingenuous. It’s just understanding that people care about different things and so making sure that you’re emphasizing the part of your business that they’re most likely to care about.

Hang out by the food table

If you don’t feel comfortable introducing yourself to people, try hanging out by the food table. Food is always a great conversation starter. If you see someone picking up that lovely mini cupcake you just tried, go up to them and say,

“Those cupcakes are absolutely amazing. You should definitely try one. O … I’m Yasmin by the way. Nice to meet you. What’s your name?”

And voila! You’ve struck up a conversation in a non-awkward and relaxed manner.

Ask questions

Most people think that networking is all trying to impress people with your amazing accomplishments. But it’s just as important to listen to other people and try to learn more about them. Not only is it polite but the more you learn about someone, the more likely you are to find interesting ways that they could be helpful to you and your business.

I was at a conference once and struck up a conversation with a guy who worked in PE – his deals were all Europe-focused so there wasn’t that much in common with SLA. But after chatting for a few minutes, he mentioned that his wife sat on the board of an organization that we’d desperately been trying to reach out to! Now, you see if I’d spent the whole time blabbing to him about myself, I may never have found out about this awesome connection.

Go for the number 2

Here’s a scene I see at networking events all the time. Important woman or man arrives and everyone swarms him/her, jockeying to get a word in, shoving cards in his/her face, begging for his/her card. Important man/woman is overwhelmed, a little uncomfortable and frankly doesn’t see individuals, instead he/she just sees a mass of overly eager faces.

When this happens DO NOT join them. Here’s a little trick I’ve learnt. Look around for the people that this person arrived with. It might be a chief of staff, a PA, a family friend or just a friend. Target that person. Why you ask? Because that person is waaaaay more accessible than important man/woman and yet they have access to important man/woman.

So, connecting with them gives you a good chance of securing a (maybe even private) meeting with important man/ woman in the future. More generally, that person may actually be able to teach you a thing or two. After all smart, successful people tend to surround themselves with other smart, successful people.

So there you have it! A couple of short tips to help you become ace your next networking event.

How to spot a swag assist

You want to be a boss. You dream of being the type of woman who is on her grind, building an empire and taking no prisoners. Chairman by M.I, I’m a Boss by Rick Ross, and Looku Looku by The Mavins are key songs in the playlist of your life.

There’s only one big problem – you think your partner might be a hater, #SwagDeflator – every #MotherlandMogul’s worst nightmare.
Nicki Minaj - Hell No GifOne of the most critical factors that will impact your professional and entrepreneurial growth is your significant other. Having a partner who supports you is a godsend  – their belief in your talents and dreams will have you thinking you’re Oprah 2.0 or the female Dangote-in-waiting. Having a partner who actively blocks your shine is the worst.

With this in mind, we, at She Leads Africa, have come up with a few tips to help you spot a partner who will support your #MotherlandMogul swag. They’ll be your very own Swag Assist.

1. Was his mum a hustler?

To start, you have to take it all the way to the beginning. Our families and childhoods have a huge influence on what we think our lives should look like when we become adults.

Licia Ronzulli - EU parliament member with baby

If a guy grew up with a mum who was always on her hustle, he’s more likely to see your hustle as normal and ordinary. Additionally, if his mum is a hustler herself, she’s more likely to tell him to chill if he starts complaining too much about your work schedule.

This isn’t to say that sons of stay-at-home mums will want you to do the same. But understand that it may take him some time to get used to your hustle.

2. How much gendered language does he use?

Any potential partner who uses words like “men’s work” or “women’s work” should raise red flags.

Jasmine and tiger from Aladdin

To be a #SwagAssist, a guy needs to have his own beliefs about gender norms not what society has told him. He needs to be comfortable sharing the work at home. For example, if you’re running late at the office, he should put the kids to bed.

If you have a big meeting the next day and don’t have time to cook dinner, he needs to be fine with that. If your man sees the world in one particular way and thinks that you need to stay in your lane, he’s probably not going to be the Barack to your Michelle.

3. How hard does he try to upgrade you and your business?

Beyoncé told the world she wants to upgrade her man, but you should also have someone who wants your business to reach the next level.

Beyonce and Jay Z dancing

There are plenty of guys who pay lip service to supporting their partners, but in reality they couldn’t care less. Does your partner think about how their personal and professional networks can help you grow? If they have special skills, do they use them to support you? For example, if he’s a banker has he offered to look at your numbers? A #SwagAssist will energetically try to support your professional aspirations.


Align your partner with your ambition.”

–Bola Adesola, MD Standard Chartered Nigeria


4. What does he say when you complain about the hustle?

We all have times when nothing seems to be working, and we just want to roll up into the fetal  position and give up.

Biggest loser - Jillian Michaels

Yes, we all want a partner who is occasionally going to baby us and tell us everything is going to be okay. Here’s the thing though, building a business isn’t child’s play and having a partner who is going to let you give up is not helpful if you’re really trying to be a #MotherlandMogul.

You need someone who cares about you so deeply that they’ll listen to you complain, but believes in you so much that they force you to get back up.

5. How does he react to your business success?

When you’ve just signed a big deal and you tell him, pay attention to his expressions and tone of his voice. Does he give you a weak smile, like kind Yetunde gave her boyfriend when he proposed with an ugly ring? Does he say congrats quickly and then get back to how bad the traffic was in Lekki? If the answer is yes, then you’ve got yourself a certified #SwagDeflator. A #SwagAssist will make it clear that you da real MVP.

LA Galaxy soccer player celebrating

He will give you Azonto, Shoki and the running man all at the same time. All of his social media followers will know that you just won. He’ll be so excited people will think he won the lottery. That’s the sort of partner you need walking with you on the journey to professional success.

Everyone knows that one of the easiest ways to lose a war is to start fighting on two fronts. Just ask any German commander circa early 1940s.

It takes a village to raise an entrepreneur – and guess what? Your husband, your bae, your partner, your number 1 is a critical member of that village.

We hope you find someone who cares about your professional happiness and success just as much as you do.

If you’re married and yourMaya Rudolph Saying No guy is a swag deflator, please don’t cite us in the divorce proceedings.