How to set goals like the motherland mogul that you are

To me, setting a goal is like aiming that bowling ball at the white pins; the amount of effort and calculation put in determines how many bottles will be cleared which is why your goals do not matter more than the mode of setting them.

I’ll give you a better illustration. Setting a goal is similar to aiming a missile at a spaceship from this planet, you don’t know for sure if your aim is going to bring results but you just close your eyes and do it anyway!


The number one lesson which is fundamental to setting goals is going way beyond your limit. Now I’m not asking you to be unrealistic, set a goal within your human capacity just let it scare you a bit.

How does your own goal scare you? You know you’re scared of your set goals when:
I.   It’s within the limits a motherland mogul like you does not have
II. It’s something you can do even though you think that you cannot attempt it
III. You don’t believe it’s something you can do or someplace you can get to


When it comes to the art of setting goals, my dear you must be very realistic. For instance, you shouldn’t submit your CV for a job which requirements are higher than your professional level knowing fully well that you cannot get those papers before the interview.

You must meet the requirements of your requirements! You have to strive to reach the eligibility level and never relax on your oars.


I know this is 2018 so everyone probably knows OS means Operating System right? Right. Ever wondered why Apple keeps upgrading the performance level of their gadgets? To keep up with the consumer market! Same way you cannot stop being eligible!

You have to continue being the best person for that position, the one they are losing out on if they don’t put their monies on! How do you do this?

  I. Get professional


The ‘masters syndrome’ in today’s Nigeria has ravaged most appointment seekers. What they don’t know is that professional certification singles you out of the master’s multitude.

You need to attend a course today, start from somewhere, be it WIMBIZ or a Nigerian Women Techsters training just do something!

II. Build your experience

Fill your resume with internship/externship experiences, work for free if you have to!

III. Get out of your comfort zone

Your comfort zone is that place in your existence where you feel totally at peace, rested and fulfilled. I will tell you a secret today (promise not to tell nobody?), your goal will never be in your comfort zone!

Beyonce had to go solo, leaving behind friendships and carbs to become who she is, Malala went over the fence of children and women not being heard in a rather conservative state and Joe Okei-Odumakin had so many visits to detention and prisons to be an activist.

None of these people felt entirely happy leaving the comfort of friendship, being obedient to repugnant laws and the comfort of their bed and peace to be moguls but they did anyway!

That’s my point exactly! Don’t reject offers in other regions! Stop telling yourself you’re too young! Stop telling yourself you’re a woman! Just stop!

Learn something outside of your known area of specialization, think of a business idea someone in your society is not taking up, be creative.

IV. Don’t try to be regular

Try setting goals negating what you were expected to do. For instance, in the legal profession, most ladies decide to work in the civil service to minimize stress in order to combine law with making a home but some outstanding ones still take up jobs as company secretaries, private practice, maritime legal experts etc.

Sometimes our purpose lies in our ability to think outside of the box, in order to get the honey out of the rock, you might have to roll up your denim and begin to cut it out instead of just taking your mind off it totally.

These tips are great life builders and I hope they help someone.

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Evelyn Ngugi: Hard Work Only Makes Things Better

The YouTube world has grown exponentially in the past few years thanks to more and more people using it as a platform for content creation.

YouTube has produced big names in the digital world such as Lily Singh, Patricia Bright, Jenna Marbles and the like. Kenyan-American YouTuber, Evelyn Ngugi is well on her way to the creme of the crop of content creators with her channel, Evelyn from the Internets which currently boasts 150k+ subscribers and even got the stamp of approval from the Queen bee herself, Beyonce.

Evelyn recently took a trip back to her home country for the first time in over a decade and spent some time meeting her internet cousins (her name for her subscribers) and discovering Kenya again as an adult.

SLA managed to get some time to chat with the hilarious Texas native on her growth in YouTube, her thoughts on the creative industry in Africa and what’s in store for her in the future.

You started making YouTube videos way before it became the IT thing to do. What got you interested in that medium of sharing?

Tinkering with different media has always been an interest of mine. As a child, I would dub my “radio show” over old cassette tapes.

As a teenager, I would enlist my little brother to record “TV shows” and burn them onto blank DVDs. YouTube/the Internet was just next up, in terms of accessible technology.

How has social media helped grow your brand?

I’m more interested to know what people think my brand is, to begin with! Social media changed the game because it makes people and their processes accessible. For example, we used to only be able to interact with musicians or actors when their work was released or they had a press interview.

With social media, those barriers are gone. It’s scary and cool but mostly cool. Social media helps grow brands by putting creators directly in touch with consumers.

Focus on making an amazing product first. Social media algorithms will have changed 10 times by the time you’re ready to advertise - Evelyn Ngugi Click To Tweet

We love that you stan hard for various Black Girl Beauty Brands. What advice would you give to young women out there looking to start and/or build their own brand?

Focus on making an amazing product first. These social media algorithms will have changed 10 times by the time you’re ready to advertise anyway.

So many people want to be a “brand” but they don’t actually have a product yet.


You recently took a break from the daily routines of life as explained in your recent video. Why did that happen?

The break was the decision and goal I made for late 2017 and the rest of 2018! Something about being 27, girl… it makes you realize that you are in control of your time.

Do I want to spend the tail end of my precious twenties feeling stuck, or do I want to pivot into something greater? I chose greater.

What inspires you as a creative and what drives you as an entrepreneur?

I’m definitely a creative, but not an entrepreneur (yet). I think that’s just a misconception of being on the Internet. I’ve been #TeamHaveA9to5 my entire adulthood (which isn’t long) and I’m only now figuring out if I want to work for myself.

What inspires me as a creative are how innate and infinite my imaginations are and how hard work only makes things better.

So toddlers are creative, but those toddlers eventually grow up and become Martin Scorsese or something and that’s just incredible to think about. Not even trying to be funny, but as an entrepreneur, I imagine not being homeless or hungry would be the biggest driver.

You cut your own check and that sounds stressful fam!

You recently visited Kenya for the first time in over a decade. What are your thoughts about the creative space in Kenya vs other African countries?

Hmmm – that’s such a huge question for a first generation kid-essentially-turned tourist! From my brief time there, I noticed creative folks were frustrated.

What does it mean for music to sound Kenyan? Fashion to look Kenyan? When we talk about Nigeria or South Africa or even neighboring Tanzania, some of those things are more clearly defined or accepted.

I think Kenyan artists need more financial, governmental, and societal support to elevate Kenyan creative works where they belong.

Who are your top 5 YouTubers?

I feel like these answers change every time – thanks to YouTube algorithm! So right now, in no particular order:

KickThePJ: He’s just fantastical and whimsical and embodies what I still admire about YouTube. Making stuff up. Making stuff with your hands. Combining the two. A multi-media filmmaker.

Beleaf In Fatherhood: As a single, child-free person, it is difficult to find a family channel that holds my attention. This family combines my love of dope music with an attention to detail and story that is unmatched.

Oh, and it’s #blacklove all the way.

Patricia Bright: She is OG YouTube. She is still here. And she’s killing it. I think she’s gorgeous and hilarious and if you can make someone who wears black 90% of the time (me) still be thoroughly entertained by a 30-minute video of you trying on clothes??! SUBSCRIBE.

F0XY: Jade has such a distinct comedic tone and voice and I just want her to win. Because if she wins, I feel like I can too. She’s relatable like that. Inappropriate and so, so relatable.

Lavendaire: She is a sweet whisper of lavender essential oil infused vapor that calms me down and helps me be productive all at the same time. Gorgeously branded channel and impactful content.

Do you plan on moving on from YouTube to mainstream television or the big screen?

My plan for 2018 is to do more screenwriting and share more stories – both my own and those of my fellow earthlings.

Where those stories end up for your viewing pleasure isn’t necessarily the most important part of my plan. But if a TV show or movie wants to holla, I’ll definitely clear my google calendar!! Shoot!

What would you be if you weren’t a YouTuber?

YouTube is just a platform. I’d be doing the same thing I’m doing now, just on whatever website ended up popping off instead of YouTube. I’m a journalist, storyteller, funny girl, and hopefully, a friend in your head.

What is your mantra in life?

“Be thoughtful and silly.” That’s a quote from Hank Green about what it means to be an adult. Growing up and becoming boring/bored terrifies me, so I find comfort in that idea.

Being silly is still allowed – thank God. Stay childlike, not childish.

Got an article you’d like to share with us? Share your story with us here.

Hanna Ali: Through my short stories, I hope that Somalis will connect to feelings of uprootedness

Hanna Ali is a writer, poet, teaching fellow and so much more. She is the first contemporary author to publish her collection of short stories in Somali.

Through her book “Sheekadii noloshayada”(The Story of us), she never shies away from controversial topics, while she proves that where there is pain, there is beauty.

She explores the themes of home and (un)belonging in her creative works, and captures the unspoken tensions and hopes of displaced people, therefore, it’s only apt that her work is accessible to the entirety of the Somali diaspora and beyond. 

Having shared her insights on how to stay relevant as a creative writer during an SLA Facebook Live, Hanna talks extensively about her writing and her decision to publish in Somali instead of English language.

Why is it important for you to publish in Somali?

I think it’s powerful to say that I am a Somali author who has been translated to Somali. Buying my short stories is much bigger than myself and it’s about supporting this incredibly amazing movement of bringing modern stories in indigenous African languages.

Market FiftyFour has given me an incredible platform to publish in Somali and I was attracted to the notion that African stories in African languages matter. They matter because we exist, and we not only deserve but demand brand new, contemporary stories in the indigenous languages. 

Your work covers themes of displacement, fracture, uprootedness. Why are these important themes for you?

These are important themes for me because I was a child refugee, and the experiences that I have had of course affect my work.

I also think that a great deal of Africans and of course others in the West do feel a sense of displacement as part of the diaspora experience and the notion that you don’t quite fit in anywhere.

Through my short stories, I hope that people (Somalis in particular), will connect to feelings of uprootedness and to know that they’re not alone in their life experiences.


There is a poetic ring to your prose, and you consider yourself first and foremost a poet. What is it that draws you to poetry?

Poetry, for me, is very raw and it’s a genre that always sticks with me; poems have a way of hitting you hard in that pit in the bottom of your stomach and unearthing all the tense feelings that we carry.

My short stories were created out of my poetry and the intent is for my stories to read like poetry in the sense that I want it to be raw and vulnerable and full of meanings that hopefully anyone can relate to and draw from.

Do you have a routine to get into writing? What space do you get into for you to be creative?

I find that I write at the most random time, whether it’s convenient or not! Sometimes it’s waking up from a dream at 3 am and making notes on my phone, other times it’s whilst working on something else.

I wish that I could say that sitting down with a big cup of tea and soft music at home is the magic trick that wills my mind into writing but mostly you just take what you can get.

Having said that, most of my best writing has come from sitting outside on a warm day or night so maybe that’s my secret after all; fresh air and warmth.

Since storytelling is very important in Somali culture, how do you draw inspiration from your Somali roots in your stories?

I draw inspiration from my Somali roots simply because I am a Somali who was born in Somalia and who speaks Somali. 

I grew up in Europe and therefore my culture is all around me, I’d say it’s hard to not draw inspiration from it!

A lot of the topics you tackle are contentious, how important was it for you to veer away from conventional and safe topics?

Nothing about me has ever been “safe” or “conventional” and so, of course, my writings have no place being in that sort of category.

I wouldn’t necessarily claim that I went out of my way to write contentious topics, but I do think it’s important for any writer to speak their truth and to let their creative imagination take them to where it needs to go to organically by not having an agenda per se but an idea.

Also, safe and conventional just oozes out boredom and I hope that my writing is anything but boring.

How do you make sure that your writing skills improve?

I think that it’s very important for writers to be well-read and to take themselves outside of the bubble of writing by reading different genres and writing styles.

Sometimes when you’re in a writing phase, you tend to lose yourself inside of an imaginary world so reading lots and taking time out to focus solely on my doctoral studies helps me to then come back to my creative work with a new perspective.

I also find that there are always going to be bad first drafts and accepting that is an important way to improve.

What is your advice to young African female writers on getting published?


My advice is put yourself forward and apply to as many writing competitions as possible alongside online magazines and other creative platforms that are continually looking for submissions.

It’s important to know that rejection is an essential part of any creative work and that you should never let that steer you from your goal.

Ultimately, you must be the greatest believer in yourself and your work and eventually, the world will catch up as well. Just do it!


How to build a profitable creative business

creative live creative business
@ChristineArhu shares six tips she used to grow her creative business after a string of failed businesses Click To Tweet

Congratulations! You’ve decided to take the leap to become your own boss and entrepreneur! But wait, what exactly is it you want to do? I’m guilty of not knowing what I wanted to do with my life.

In college, I took liberal arts as I just kept changing my major. After college, I became a mother and therefore stayed home with the kids. This really frustrated me a lot because I was used to working and depending on myself. So I decided to start a jewelry business. That business failed as I wasn’t making any profit and I had no clue how to use social media to my advantage.

So I started a VA company and that didn’t work out either! I then decided to get a real estate license and after failing the exam twice, I gave up (you see the pattern here…). I was still confused as to what I wanted to do in my life. With all the failed businesses I started, I felt like such a failure!

However, I kept asking myself why I couldn’t start and have a successful business. Why do I keep failing at all the businesses I start? What do I need (besides capital) to start and maintain a successful business? Then it hit me, I was basically trying to start businesses that I had zero interest in and I was doing it for the sole purpose of making a profit.

I had no purpose and zero passion. Yes making money is important, but you need to be passionate about the business you are doing. Realizing this, I sat down and really discovered what I was good at. And that was graphic and web design. So I began my journey as a Brand Designer and I haven’t looked back since.

So how do you create a profitable creative business? Let’s dive in….

1. Write your personal mission statement

The reason I say to write your personal mission statement first is that you have to know why you want to be a creative entrepreneur in the first place.

By doing this, it will make it easier for you to narrow down your niche and clearly define your brand. If you haven’t figured out what you want to do, write down a list of your strengths and weaknesses.

Next, write down what other people ask you for help with or what they say you are good at. Then look at the two lists and see which characteristics coincide and bam you’ve found your business! Download my free personal mission statement worksheet.

You have to know why you want to be a creative entrepreneur in the first place Click To Tweet

2. Find out who your target market or niche is

It’s important to know who you are trying to attract as potential clients. Why? Because being unclear as to what your services are will bring in clients and projects that you’ll hate!

When I was first starting out as social media and business coach, I took projects for the sole purpose of earning an income and ended up hating the projects! After really looking into strengths and weaknesses I was then able to narrow down my niche.

Having a niche helps cut down the guess work in your services. When you are first starting out as a creative business, you will want to offer all kinds of services under the sun! By choosing a niche, you create a clear path as to where and how you want your business to grow.

3. Write your goals

Writing down your goals is like writing down a road map for your business. Honestly, I prefer to write down my business goals rather than creating a business plan because once I finish writing the business plan, I file it and forget about it.

With goals, I can divide them into two major parts; long term, and short term. From there I then write down my yearly, monthly and weekly goals. I constantly refer to my business goals worksheet just so I know I’m keeping track of things and know where I stand in my business.

Don’t make your goals complicated either. Be realistic with your goals and think of them mini business plans. Write down everything from business expenses to your projected income.

I prefer to write down my business goals rather than creating a business plan - @ChristineArhu Click To Tweet

4. Create, create, create

What do I mean by “create”? Create products, services or packages that will earn you an income. That’s the whole point you started your creative business right?!

Some ideas of products are e-books, webinars, email series, and e-courses. These are known as passive income streams for they continuously make you money even while you sleep. Services can include web design, social media management and graphic design, photography and coaching. These services are pretty self-explanatory. Wherever your strong suit lies is what you should focus on to get clients

Packages are a form of services you would offer to your clients like different coaching services with different prices. These are on terms such as monthly, every 3 months, 6 months or intensives/retreats that you could do twice a year.

5. Blog

Blogging is crucial for your creative business because it helps you get clients and create a following to which is very beneficial to your business. Blogging is not easy but if you put the effort and consistency it will pay off.

When I started blogging, I was not consistent at all because first I hadn’t chosen a niche and I had no editorial calendar. After I was able to narrow down my niche, I then was more consistent with blogging. Knowing who you serve helps you create and research content for your blog so as to create a following and attract clients.

It’s crucial to remember to engage your readers by replying back to their comments. It ensures that they are talking to an actual person and not a robot.

6. Social media

Now, this is crucial for your business. However, you don’t have to be on every social media outlet! Choose ones that you think you will find your ideal clients and readers.

For example, if you are a graphic designer then Pinterest, Instagram, and Facebook may work best for you since your work is more visual. Being on every social media platform does not mean you’ll get more clients, instead, you’ll get overwhelmed and actually lose clients because you aren’t engaging with them.

Being on every social media platform does not mean you'll get more clients Click To Tweet

One mistake I see business owners do is not reply to comments or engage their followers. When someone comments on your photo or post, comment back. It’s that simple. One rule about posting on social media is 80% either other people’s content, personable pictures, quotes, inspirations etc. and 20% selling your products and services.

You are responsible for your businesses growth and success.

Zizipho Dyubeni: I understood the struggle of having inconsistent income

Zizipho Dyubeni
Zizipho Dyubeni is behind an agency built on the premise of heightening the voice of creative Africa Click To Tweet

Zizipho Dyubeni is a communications specialist and entrepreneur from Cape Town, South Africa. She uses her creativity to promote and uplift fellow entrepreneurs in the township areas where she grew up. Through her company Blue Apple Concepts, Zizipho curates and organises bespoke events aimed at entertaining and empowering the youth, especially those interested in entrepreneurship.

One such event is the popular GlamHour, which serves as a platform for fledgling entrepreneurs in the beauty industry to showcase their work, network and gain new clients. The events also offer pampering massage sessions, facials, nail therapy and fresh delicacies for women who want to unwind in style- a rare and novel treat to the township areas of Khayelitsha. Then there’s the Lingerie Fair, aimed at encouraging young women from disadvantaged areas to openly talk about sex and practice healthy lifestyles.

Apart from the pioneering strides, she’s made in the entertainment industry, Zizipho is also a speaker, entrepreneur, event coordinator, concept developer, a freelance communications specialist, content producer and a much-loved radio personality for 2OceansVibe, an online streaming radio station.

Being such an inspiration, we just had to share her amazing story with you, our SLAy community, and find out what makes this ambitious creative tick.

Tell us about yourself. Who is Zizipho Dyubeni?

I am a young 27-year-old mom to 8-year-old Storm. I grew up in Milnerton where I went to high school. With a passionate love for all things creative, I furthered my studies at the University of the Western Cape where I later dropped out due to financial constraints.

Fast forward nearly 8 years later I have created a creative agency built on the premise of heightening the voice of creative Africa, work in media. I enjoy a life wonderous and eventful! I am also an events coordinator with a specific interest in women related lifestyle eventing.

What inspired you to start BlueAppleEye Concepts and where do you get the inspiration for all these innovative event concepts that you’ve come up with?

I was and still am a freelancer, I understood the struggle and pain of having inconsistent income.

The main idea behind the Creative Corner is to regulate work activity for creative freelancers and in doing so creating a solid creative e-commerce.

What challenges have you had to overcome on your journey in the entertainment and communications industries?

I would be lying if I said I have overcome a lot of the challenges, the creative industry is one that requires resilience. Right now our biggest struggle is merging business rationale with the creative concept.

Tell us about your other creative and business pursuits…

I am an influencer, MC, vocalist and radio DJ outside of running a small business.

Zizipho Dyubeni: The creative industry is one that requires resilience Click To Tweet

How do you manage to remain focused and disciplined to keep up with such a packed schedule?

My work does not feel like work. I am passionately living out my dream every day, on hard days I cry and pray. My family, friends and business partner keep me grounded.

What are your plans for the future?

For my business to grow into the biggest service agent in Africa housing plus 200 000 or more freelancers with sufficient work monthly.

That is the biggest dream.

My work does not feel like work. I am passionately living out my dream every day Click To Tweet

What do you do for fun and relaxation?

I party, read, listen to jazz and spend time with my loved ones.

What are the 4 skills you had to learn/use when entering the entertainment and communications industries?

  1. Listening
  2. Collaborating
  3. Paying attention to detail
  4. Concept development

If you’d like to share your story with She Leads Africa, let us know more about you and your story here

SLA Networking Brunch in Cape Town

slaying shehive lagos she leads africa

Cape Town we’re coming for you! We are so excited to be hosting our first event in Cape Town, South Africa on 15 November,  2016.

We love connecting with our community and helping young women build the skills they need for successful careers and businesses. We’re excited to host an intimate and engaging brunch for young women who are ready to turn their creative passions into sustainable businesses.

Join SLA cofounder Afua Osei for an intimate and engaging conversation around how we can turn our creative passion into sustainable and profitable businesses.


Afua Osei is a co-founder and digital guru of She Leads Africa, a community that helps young African women achieve their professional dreams.

Shes been all over the world with her career serving as a Fulbright Scholar in Malaysia, working in the Office of First Lady Michelle Obama in the White House, and working on more than 6 different political campaigns as a strategy and communications consultant.

She moved to Nigeria in 2012 to serve as a business and operations consultant at McKinsey & Company, advising large corporations and multinationals across 3 continents. She has a masters in public policy (MPP) and business administration (MBA) from the University of Chicago.

What you’ll learn:

  • How to identify the right customers for you (hint: it’s not everyone)
  • How to understand what your potential customers are thinking and give to them what they want
  • What you should be doing to get bigger brands and partners interested in you
  • How to create a roadmap to grow your influence and revenue strategies for 2017

Not sure if you should attend a She Leads Africa event?

You must be crazy! But in any case, this is what you can expect from a She Leads Africa experience:

  • Fun and engaging content: We aren’t boring and strive to deliver business content in a fun and relatable way.
  • Young women like yourself looking to make an impact: Our community is full of smart and ambitious young women who want to live their best professional lives.
  • Access to real business experts: At our events we always have exceptional speakers who have been there and can show you how to do that
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Find your way to Workshop17

3 things you need to know before turning your creativity into a source of income

shehive accra she leads africa creativity

It was Jeff Goins who said, ”A creative is an artist. Not just a painter or musician or writer. She is someone who sees the world a little differently than others.

A creative is an individual. He is unique, someone who doesn’t quite fit into any box. Some think of creatives as iconoclasts; others see them as rebels. Both are quite apt.

A creative is a thought leader. He influences people not necessarily through personality but through his innate gifts and talents.”

With this quote in mind, here are my three tips to getting started as a young African creative.

1. You are creative

You were born with immeasurable gifts and talents, you influence through your gifts of leadership, communication and a unique way of seeing things. This is the first step; you must believe that you are. It’s not all about throwing paint on canvas or pumping out eBooks. That’s only part of it.

Do you do excel sheets like no one else can? Are your PowerPoint presentations clear and concise, leaving everyone stunned? Can you conjure up delicious meals with meagre ingredients? That, my friend is creative.

Untangle that knot in your head which says that you must ‘forget about your hobbies and concentrate only on getting a good job as an accountant/lawyer/doctor’. Do you know people are out here getting paid to wear different outfits every day? (Some do this while holding down a full-time job, but still… getting paid for that ‘I love to dress up’ hobby!)


Accept it, embrace it.

2. Your creativity often feels effortless but sometimes, it feels like it takes massive effort

Do you intrinsically and effortlessly know how to arrange flowers? Can you look at a plant and know exactly if it has had too much water or too little?

Let’s also say that you know how to arrange your office in a nice way, people always wander in and hang around, simply because you can decorate on a whim.

You know how to use eye-shadow colours everyone has written off as too bright for girls of colour but you… you know how to use it in the right amounts.

Or you’re a writer. Writing romance novels comes to you easily… but sometimes the words just don’t seem to come. You design nice clothes but some days it feels like you’ve designed it all, seen it all and you sit there looking at your sketchbook, uninspired.

You are a TV producer but you haven’t had a good idea develop in months. Everything is boring boring boring!

Understand that sometimes you are in the groove, and sometimes you’re in a funk. This is normal. You are always creative, but your creativity is affected by so many situations. For example, your attitude, how tired you are, how comfortable or uncomfortable you are in your surroundings.

3. You MUST learn to embrace criticism

We are the generation of, ‘Oh, you made this? Well, it didn’t speak to me, therefore, it’s not good enough.’ We are quick to write someone off if we don’t like their work.

We are also the generation that cannot take any form of criticism because ‘hating’ or ‘hateration.’ ‘She didn’t like my work; she is totally hating.’

Who made you the authority on all things?

When you receive criticism it is important to listen to it, and decide whether it is constructive or destructive.

‘I think what you made was great, and I think you could improve it like this’,  is constructive criticism.

‘This is the worst thing I’ve ever seen!’, is destructive criticism. I know you’ve seen it on popular TV shows, and we love to watch because we love to see other humans humiliated.

Criticism shows you what is working and not working about your creativity. It makes you better. Embrace it. Learn to pick out the good criticism to help you move along. The way you sit and patiently pick out the bad beans from the good ones is how you must treat criticism. With patience, and determination.

Go ahead, get started using your gifts , talents and those quirky things you wrote off as  hobbies. Use them to start a business and propel yourself to heights you never thought you could reach.

Nomthandazo Tsembeni: I was given a gift to pass unto others

nomthandazo tsembeni

Nomthandazo Tsembeni does not call herself a musician or a poet but an artist. She does not classify herself in one basket, her talent allows her to explore each and every artistic bone in her body.

She speaks very passionately of her talent and gift which allows her to be who she wants to be. Nomthandazo doesn’t have any limitations and for her, the sky is not even the limit. She wears so many hats one will start to wonder about their own journey.

SLA contributor,  Lerato recently got an opportunity to speak to this vibrant woman. Nomthandazo shared many gems on being a performer while working a full-time job and gave us a glimpse of her award-winning poetry.

You are a performing artist and an award winning one for that matter, what is your genre of music?

I have been exposed to a lot of genres. Commercial house music is what a lot of people know me for although I love music without any boundaries.

I do afro-pop, afro-jazz and soul music because it connects me to my first love, poetry.

You don’t have your own album as yet. Where have you been featured and how was the experience?

I have been featured on DJ Nova and Tapes song called “Ndihoye”, “Heal Your Heart” by Tapes and “George” which was a remix by Rabs Vhafuwi who is known for “Count Your Blessings”.

Working with different artists has helped learn to appreciate the gift of others and the learning is limitless. It is not about what you want but what needs to be given or done to produce results.

I was given a gift to pass unto others, to heal and mend broken souls. It is God-given, something I had to obey and not because I want to appear in magazines and billboards but it is my calling.

I never compare myself with others. Art is a spirit, you can not create art but can transform from one level to another.

You seem to be an artist of many forms, do you regard yourself as a singer or poet?

I regard myself as an artist, I define myself as God’s best Stanza. I can sing, write music, stories, come up with a script for a play, play drums and I am still learning how to play a guitar.

If one classifies oneself according to one discipline then there are limits to what one can do. Trying to define myself in a specific form will confine me.

I am not an ideal woman but a woman in reality. A woman in reality can have it all and do anything they want to and are comfortable without limits because they define their own beauty and success with no pressure to be perfect.

Tell me about your awards, what were they for?

I have three awards, two online international poetry awards which I received in 2012 and 2013 and one from Moduwane District Arts Festival in 2012.

The first international one from AllPoetry was in 2012 from a poem I wrote for a general category called “The Hardest Part”.

“The hardest part

About having both feet is that

We are unable to jump a certain step in life.

In order to be successful,

You need to work hard.

For you to be wealthy,

You need to have some knowledge about poverty

And for you to be somewhere,

You have to start somewhere…”

It defines the limitations of one’s body parts through defining each part, its function and where it is limited to do certain things.

Another award I won in 2012 —Moduwane District Arts Festival— was with a poem was called “Mmabotle” which speaks of the beauty of a woman. I got the first price.

“Side by side, she would move her hips.

On her head, she put nkgo alokga metsi.

She left me drooling as she licked her back lips.

That woman left me choking on my own saliva.

This chick makes the traffic stand still tsi…”

I was again awarded by AllPoetry in 2013 for a general category for a poem called “Reality shaded in 3D pencil”.

“What if

Our bodies are graves of dead emotions?

What if

We think we are over certain people,

Yet we carry the corpses of their deceased images deep within us?

What if

Our faces are tombstones of pain and unhappiness

And the smile we wear is just a marble stone making the whole womb luxurious?….”

AllPoetry is an online platform where various poets from all over the world submit their poems and the best poem is selected. It gives global poets a stage to get to know one another and to introduce themselves in the industry.

nomthandazo tsembeni
Photo credit: Ntsako Mbhokota @ Carob Magazine

Growing up in a small town of Welkom, do you think you are getting enough exposure?

I grew up in a location called Thabong and yes, I am getting enough exposure. It is not about where you come from but about the work you do and where you see yourself in the future by associating yourself with the relevant people that are in the same field of your expertise.

Coming from a small town must not limit or be in a definition of who you are, it is about exposing yourself to things that will assist you to succeed in life. Yes we have limited access to resources but that is not an excuse to not try. It is about how you present yourself, the love and respect for your art or whatever that you specialize in.

I have had the honor to work with the likes of Jerry Mofokeng, Tina Mnumzana, Tinah Mnumzana, Ntsiki Mazwai and Wilson B Nkosi among others. I have been featured in local newspapers like Express and have been on the finals of Welkom’s Got Talent 2014.

I have performed at the State Theatre in Pretoria and the MACUFE Annual Festival in Bloemfontein and have recently been on the cover of Carob Magazine for their Woman’s month issue. I have also been interviewed on 90.9, Mozolo FM 98.2 and CUT FM 105.8.

I have not limited myself to anything based on where I come from. Instead, I have sought for help and used social media to get access to other things.

Who would you like to work with in the future?

It is so unfortunate that I have so many fellow colleagues that I would like to work with and I have to list only a few so I will only mention four artists.

  • Aus Tebza (Tebogo Sedumedi) who is from Gauteng Province and plays base guitar.
  • Asa who is a Nigerian-French artist who sings pop, jazz and indie pop.
  • Black Coffee (Nkosinathi Maphumulo who is the African God of House Music from KwaZulu Natal.
  • Samthing Soweto (Samkelo Lelethu Mdolomba) who is from Soweto and does acappella.

Tell us about Nomthandazo, how does performing and art  make her feel? Who is Nomthandazo when she is performing?

I feel alive when I am performing, I am actually fulfilling my purpose, the reason why I was born. I have been sent to heal, mend, teach and help (deliver) people. I move from one space to the next when I perform because every time I ascend the stage, for me, that is taking a step further as far as my art is concerned.

People come to tell me I helped them to get over whatever they were dealing with. I get a lot of feedback that my performances makes them get a certain feeling and find a certain kind of healing. People confess their problems and quote my work. That also motivates me to keep writing and performing.

I knew I was meant to be a performer from a young age when I could sing lyrics fluently, the pitch, tempo and everything from the age of 4. I never saw myself doing something else than just live art.

When I was doing my matric, I started asking myself if I am doing this for fun or must I take it seriously. I realized that this is not just anything but a gift, I do it effortlessly because it is a gift. I respect each and every person who comes to watch me deliver what I have been called for.

I listen to the spirit and everything that comes to me I do it there and then. My art is spiritual as I too am of the Spirit.

Tell us about your book, God is a Poet. What is that all about?

God is a Poet is an anthology of poems, short stories and quotes. Everything is original and I have written them myself. The book includes poems that I have written from high school and have been edited to meet the maturity of the work that I write now.

The name “God is a Poet” came during one of my performances when I was reciting back in 2013 in Kroonstad at a poetry session hosted by SoulStud (Phindile Mathonsi) who is originally from Mamelodi and an artist in his own right.

The words escaped my lips as I was reciting, magic was created from that moment and I knew that was going to be the name of my book. At that time, the book was ready but I didn’t have a title for it.

Because I am a spiritual person, the title “God is a Poet” made so much sense to me because in the beginning; God was with the word, the word was with Him and He was the word. Everything he did, He used words from the creation of nature to a human being, hence I emphasize that He is a Poet and I am his best Stanza.

When was it published and how long did it take you to write it?

I self published it in 2015 and it took me a long time to get everything together. I can say it took me 3 years to finally say I have a book.

My book is self published, therefore you cannot get it at book shops but from me for now. Anybody looking for any of my two books —the other one is Time is Never On Time and that is an ebook— can go to my website or my Facebook page Lady Black Poet. Anyone can also get me on Instagram or by email.

Want your business to break out? Create a whole new market

Uber Woman Driver

As entrepreneurs already know, finding clients can be a long, frustrating and expensive process. When you have little or no brand recognition, you have to work so much harder to get noticed in the market. I recently read in Entrepreneur Magazine, that “it is so important to prioritize future-minded strategy over short term opportunism”, and I completely agree with this.

So what does this mean for a young woman who wants to set her business apart? To me it means that this is the time to look for new business opportunities which typically haven’t been as welcome or open to women. While we may be more familiar with industries like beauty and fashion which are easier to start from home, developing a future-minded strategy requires us to look at opportunities beyond ourselves such as construction and heavy industries. It is with such opportunities that we must understand that the only limitations we now have, are those we hold on as truth in our own minds.

Being in the industrial sphere does not even always mean that you would have to get dirt under your fingernails; the takeover of technology in almost every business sector has opened up so many doors that the line to what is possible, and impossible has become almost invisible. Many entrepreneurs and CEO’s know that competing head-to-head with other entities can become daunting and cutthroat, more so when markets are slow and quite flat. All leaders in any business would agree that if there’s an easier alternative to get out of the head-to-head competing, and instead find a clear opportunity that has not yet been tapped; they would opt for that direction. In a world with hundreds of thousands of different products & services, innovation has become central to the survival of any new of mature business.

Creating new markets for your entity requires just that, INNOVATION’.

An article published by Harvard Business Review titled ‘Creating new markets’ stated that,

‘Most companies focus on matching and beating their rivals, and as a result their strategies tend to converge along the same basic dimensions of competition. Such companies share an implicit set of beliefs about “how we compete in our industry or in our strategic group.” They share a conventional wisdom about who their customers are and what they value, and about the scope of products and services their industry should be offering. The more that companies share this conventional wisdom about how they compete, the greater the competitive convergence. As rivals try to outdo one another, they end up competing solely on the basis of incremental improvements in cost or quality or both.’

So, the first thing to understand about creating new markets is that it requires a different pattern of strategic thinking. Instead of looking within the accepted boundaries that define how we compete, entrepreneurs should look systematically across them. By doing so, you can find unoccupied territory that represents a real breakthrough in value.

Let’s have a look at UBER, a company that, instead of buying a fleet of cabs and competing head-to-head with other cab companies, decided to do something completely different. The founders of UBER could have innovated and stopped at how they could get hybrid cars as part of their strategy or maybe even offer more comfortable vehicles with WIFI connection and well-trained drivers. Instead, the founders looked at how to make the process easier for customers and developed a tech friendly solution that provides lower costs through accurate monitoring of the distance travelled and drivers trained to a standard level of service. 

By looking at the problem and the industry from another angle, they have created an entire market for themselves and disrupted an entrenched industry that had little innovation over the past 50 years. I doubt any of the UBER founders had ever driven a cab for a living or dreamt of being a cab driver. However they were able to capitalize on this opportunity because those who had been in that industry were very comfortable with the same old way that they had been operating for years. They couldn’t see the way technology could disrupt the industry and they missed the opportunity. 

When thinking about creating a new market the popular question “What are my competitors doing?” should immediately be followed by the question “What should my competitors be doing?” Or more bluntly, how can I bring those who could be my head-to-head competitors to my mercy?

If you already have a product line, maybe look into a second generation product to help the financial standpoint of the company by creating a new market altogether. Finding secondary marketing can be as easy as adjusting packaging. Look at Coca-Cola or Kellogg’s, these companies have an array of products which aren’t worlds apart where taste or ingredients are concerned. Exhibit A would be the much loved amongst women market, the Special K cereal. Special K promises health benefits & sells fitness indirectly to us and what woman doesn’t want to be fit or at least healthy? Then have a look at Coco Pops, same company, different branding, a bit more sugar and even a cartoon character to attract the kids market. 

All these have proven to me that as an entrepreneur, your perspective seldom matters above that of the market. You may as the entrepreneur see things ‘Ok as they are’, but one thing you should always bare in mind is that you’re not selling these to yourself, so get into the mind of the market. Think the unthinkable.

Now here’s the challengeGo back to your businesses. Identify your ‘old ways of doing things’ and see how you could catapult yourself to being an industry leader by offering an entirely new way of doing business. Don’t lose sight of your original product or service but explore ways that you could make a similar product that’s targeted at a whole new market.

A new market demographic could be a simple as age group, gender or even race. Start innovating. Research how you could infuse technology into your new or existing business. Technology is on the rise, you may just be a tech pioneer in the industry you’re in; simply by understanding the challenges faced by your sector counterparts.

Remember that in order to adjust your perspective, you must see through the eyes of the consumer. Seek to address a problem and people will pay you for solving their problems.