The free labour trap: Stop being a “yasss queen”

Practising social distancing and working from home as a mother of a one-year old has meant I have to be intentional with taking the time to rest and making time to be present with my family.

It has also allowed me to revisit some of the things which I’ve been meaning to do. You know, those things we hang on the ‘I will get to you when I have time’ shelf? Yup, things which we have been putting off for months now.

With the increase in online activity filled with Microsoft Teams or Zoom meetings, it came as no surprise when every other day I would have a friend or an acquaintance texting me for feedback on their website or requesting tips for self-care regimens. It was always this or the other odd thing, which they have started taking on with all the free time we seem to have at our disposal.

There is a super thin line between helping someone out because you’re homies and selling yourself short- Zimkhitha Mathunjwa Click To Tweet

I don’t mind getting on a call so that you can pick my mind on an idea you would like to try out or give input on a concept you’re testing. I equally have no qualms about connecting or plugging you to a great resource base to make things happen for you.

Where it gets a tad tricky is when I am asked to work on something and use my resources and expertise, without compensation. There is a super thin line between helping someone out because you’re homies and selling yourself short because of your ride or die ties.

The issue with being a free labour ‘YAAAAAAS’ queen

I am sure you’ve had acquaintances and colleagues asking you to proof-read their work and offer feedback on proposals or creative projects. Or friends who have asked you to work on their business plans or hustled you into a last-minute brainstorm sesh on their projects and because this is the sisterhood of the ‘each one help one’ mantra, we show up and shake it up.

At what cost though, do we continue to tap dance to this thankless tune of free labour? If you’ve been here, you know that once you’re done, some don’t even have the inclination to acknowledge the time, expertise and resources that went into helping them. That is a post for another day entirely.

This, however, is about how I have decided that my free labour has reached its quota. I am not available to perform these ad-hoc tasks unless I am getting paid for it. Sis, fatigue ain’t cute and I am not open to overextending myself any longer.

Make ‘No’ your ultimate BFF

We need to normalise handing out our rate card when asked to offer our expert advice or do work for friends and family. There is nothing wrong with this, we’re all trying to get our coins, Queens. Let’s not abuse each other’s generosity for self-gain, plus, it’s disrespectful.

Not only will taking a stand on how you spend your time and allocate your resources ensure that you do not overextend yourself, but it will bring you peace of mind.

A big part of self-care that we often overlook is knowing how to say no. No, is extremely liberating and it also makes sure that people do not take advantage of you.

I am not saying be selfish and not leverage off of each other’s knowledge and skills. These are the tenets on which sisterhood and community are built. We look out for each other and put one another on. What I am advocating for, is being self-FULL. Stop treating yourself like an afterthought, be intentional about prioritising yourself. Give yourself the respect which is due to you.

Stop treating yourself like an afterthought, be intentional about prioritising yourself – Zimkhitha Mathunjwa Click To Tweet

3 things to avoid going forward:

  1. Saying yes to a strategy and brainstorming session which will require research from you and will be resource-intense without compensation.
  2. Do not consult on a project or provide feedback for work that will be remunerated but you receive nothing.
  3. Say no to friends and family requests to do free work that you ordinarily get paid to do.

Many won’t be happy with the decision I have taken to cut free labour. The beauty of this is that it isn’t about what people say, it is 100% about me. I will be happier for it; my relationships will be healthier as a result and my coins will stay popping. Surely, this is a good look! Remember that the work you do is important, and you are equally important.


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5 Things a Motherland Mogul Leader is Not

Leadership is an art. It means taking courage to maneuver a group of people with common intentions, goals, and objectives in an organized manner. Not everyone can be a good leader! 

Of course, you have to bear in mind your follower’s individual strengths and weaknesses while walking on eggshells trying not to annoy this group of people – even when they throw their frustrations and aggression at you!

With all these pressures, leaders quite often fall into bad habits as they struggle to achieve their goals. To avoid this, as a Motherland Mogul and leader, you are probably asking, what is a leader not?

Bossy

There is a wide difference between being a boss and being bossy. A bossy person is a maniac! They operate like a machine put in place to juice their subjects in order to extract what they want for the company.

A great leader is none of these. They are diplomatic and understand that more is given willingly than forcibly.  A good leader is compassionate. They do not exclude others from contributing their part towards the common goal.

Nepotist

Yes. We all have that cousin or friend that we think would be the best at this job. But what would your followers think if this was the case? Would they be committed to your family company?

It is very sad that nobody nowadays values meritocracy. Leaders give more attention to those who massage their ego, than those who tell them like it is.

However, true leadership requires building the right team that will challenge you and helps you grow your organization.

A jolly old person

The truth is, great leaders do not try to keep friendships with others by satisfying their needs at the expense of their followers and the common purpose. When you start pleasing everyone, you start compromising.

This then causes your standards to get a tilt and you’re not the same leader anymore. It doesn’t hurt to make friends, but don’t let your friendships compromise your value and your objectives.

A Narcissist.

Have you ever heard the tale of Narcissus? According to Greek Mythology, he was cursed by a God to look at his reflection in the water and fall in love with it every day. He fell in love so much that it actually ruined him!

As slay queens, we need to love ourselves. But we shouldn’t let our self-love turn into overconfidence, self-adulation, and self-centeredness at the expense of our followers and the common purpose.

A prejudiced discriminator.

In 1949, sociologist Merton illustrated prejudice and discrimination with four categories of people:

  • Unprejudiced non-discriminator
  • Unprejudiced discriminator
  • Prejudiced non-discriminator
  • Prejudiced discriminator

The prejudiced discriminator is the worst kind of leader to experience. They are a chooser and not a trainer. This kind of leader doesn’t believe that followers of a particular sect, religion, ethnicity or region can offer the common purpose any productivity due to insufficient justification and undue prejudice.

Great leaders do not just build visions, but they also build people. If one doesn’t avoid these habits of bad leaders, they end up attracting the wrong crowd, or no crowd! 

As Motherland Moguls, let us strive to make sure we are not bad leaders. Build your dreams on the right and with the right attitude. Let’s make Africa better with the advent of good leadership and fellowship.


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

The Shine Theory: What it is and why you need it.

Building friendships with accomplished women is great for your business & personal network Click To Tweet

What is your first thought when you get introduced to another woman? ‘She’s pretty but maybe not as pretty as me?’ or ‘Gosh, I wish my edges were that laid’ perhaps ‘Who is this? Does she think I’m cool?’

Whether it’s involuntary or not we tend to have a train of thought that borders on the competitive when we meet someone new. It even happens with people we do know, hearing good news about a friend’s new promotion or engagement can sometimes make us feel a little left behind.

Well the Shine Theory, advocated by Anne Friedman, challenges you to flip the script. The basic premise is that when you meet an intimidatingly successful bad ass woman, instead of letting that little voice in your head tell you that you should feel inferior or even intimidated, send it back where it came from and befriend her! Friedman explains, ‘Surrounding yourself with the best people doesn’t make you look worse by comparison. It makes you better.’

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Why the Shine Theory?

We live in a society that constantly pits women against each other, as if we can’t imagine a world where two successful women can exist without being competitors. The Shine Theory encourages us to surround ourselves with women who are successful and to encourage these successes. How can we not want to see the women around us flourish and do the most? After all, we are the company we keep.

But does the Shine Theory actually work? It has been tried and tested by the women in the Obama Administration with the effects fostering an important change in the way women treat each other in the workplace. It has been a long time coming but it is definitely time to change the narrative that women cannot exist in the same space without being pitted against one another.

So how can you practice the Shine Theory?

Well, charity does start at home. How we see and treat others is based on how we see and treat ourselves. A little self-love and self-confidence goes a long way. When you recognise your potential and your unique path, you’re less likely to compare yourself to others and resent their accomplishments.

It is important to ask yourself why you instinctively take a negative approach to meeting someone new. How do you feel about yourself, your career and happiness? Your answers to this will generally reflect how you ultimately treat others.

Image result for beyonce gif not everybody is supposed to be the same

Convinced? Here’s how to start.

The Shine Theory can easily be done with our friends and general social circle but it is not just limited to seeing our inner circle flourish. It is also key to make an effort when we meet someone who potentially intimidates you. This isn’t a ‘fake it till you like her’ situation.

Be genuine and honest with your friendships and acquaintances, be part of a BOSS community that encourages and thrives off each other’s success.Whether it’s a tweet of encouragement or creating platforms that support another woman’s business, the Shine Theory allows all those involved to bask in each other’s sparkle.

Image result for black girl magic gifs

Building friendships with more accomplished women is great for building your business relationships and your personal networks. Who knows? That seemingly intimidating woman could be you next business partner. More significantly, you gain you a strong support system that pushes you to be the best version of yourself.

We need friends that are smart, confident and kick-ass women who dish out the best advice and inspire us daily. Create and foster friendships based on mutual appreciation and respect in seeing each other’s triumphs as a celebration for all.

Squad goals for the Motherland Mogul

squad

So, it’s 2016 and us Motherland Moguls are too busy planning world domination to be bothered with perpetuating silly stereotypes of women tearing each other down.

According to the Urban Dictionary, one can define squad goals as, “an inspirational term for what you’d like your group of friends to be or accomplish”. To be perfectly honest, this term is fire right now. But even fierier? The power women this article is about to lay down for you.

They are killing it in their careers and looking bomb while at it. It’s definitely time to up your squad a notch or two. Who knows? You all could end up in the next edition of SLA’s squad goals.

LaLa Anthony, Ciara, Kelly Rowland and Serena Williams

This awesome foursome consists of incredible women who are leading successful lives and still finding the time to be each others cheerleaders. Key in a world champion tennis player, a superstar singer/one-third of Grammy-winning music group Destiny’s Child, a RnB songstress/dancer, and an actress/co-producer of the first all-black, all-female cast Broadway show.

Talk about goalssss! Sometimes their schedules don’t permit them to all be present to mark important milestones but they support each other ferociously nevertheless! Just recently, Serena turned down the offer to be Ciara’s bridesmaid at her wedding to Russell Wilson as it coincided with the Wimbledon semi-finals.

But, she was a part of the all-girls trip Ciara planned to Vegas before her big day. These are the kind of boss women the Motherland Mogul needs around her for motivation and inspiration; women who are killing it and who value their friendships immensely.

beyonce-ciara-kelly-rowland-serena-williams-lala

This squad is so bomb, Queen Bey is like an honorary member. I think that says it all. I’ll stop right here.

Arese Ugwu and Toke Makinwa

Do these women really need an introduction? I think not. Just in case you’ve been under a rock this entire time and missed our article on inspirational websites, Arese is a personal finance guru and the founder of Smart Money Africa.

Toke Makinwa is known as a vlogger, multimedia personality, and fashion icon. This dynamic duo has got mad love for one other and ruling their respective empires hasn’t dimmed it one bit.

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Muna Abii, Sarah Ofili, and Adaeze Yobo

Former beauty queen and current rapper/entertainer,  Muna Abii and designer/blogger Sarah Ofili serve us some serious goals. This sensational twosome work hard and slay even harder! This friendship definitely makes us green with envy!

muna abii sarah ofili delta breed

Whenever the third pal Adaeze Yobo is in town, the squad gets together to catch up and cheer each other on. Adaeze is also a former beauty queen and a Sickle Cell Awareness advocate.

sarah ada muna

These women prove that there is beauty in unity and that powerful women don’t necessarily have to be at odds with each other. Squad goals for sure! 😍

Are you and your squad as fly as these ladies? Tell us in the comments!

The 5 types of friends every woman needs in her late 20s and early 30s

an african city friends

“True friends are like diamonds—bright, beautiful, valuable and always in style.”

– Nicole Ritchie

Coming of age and navigating the tumultuous waters of adulthood, I was a big fan of the TV show “Sex and the city” as my friends and I looked to the show for advice on how to model our lives in a way that was fashionable and fun. As I grew older, I realized that there was another important “f factor” I needed to be on the lookout for when choosing friends, fulfillment.  There comes a point in every young woman’s life, for me it hit in my late 20s as the dreaded 3-0 loomed closer, where you realize that it is time to put aside childish thoughts and ways and begin to think seriously about laying a stable foundation for your 30s and working towards the manifestation of that.

In the last decade I have lived in 5 cities in 3 different countries. I have been a student, a traveler, a freelancer and full-time employee. I have gained, and lost, more than my fair share of acquaintances, kindred spirits, fair-weather and lifelong friends. The more I think about the different periods of my life and the people who were present during those times, the more I realize the great, and lasting,  impact these people have had on my life. The ones that stand out in my mind and the ones whose friendships I still cherish are the ones who were with me laughing, crying, cursing, loving, losing and believing with me all the way.

When I first watched the hit web TV series “An African City”, beyond the glamorous lives of these returnees, what struck me was the strong bond of friendship that existed between these 5 women, individually and collectively. Perhaps, wrapped in each of An African City’s complex character are a few lessons we could all learn about the types of friends every modern African woman needs to successfully navigate her late 20s and early 30s.

The Lifer/Memory Keeper

“An African City” is told from the viewpoint of NanaYa, who returns to Ghana with her parents after spending most of her life in America. We learn about the other characters through NanaYa’s insightful observations and it is clear that she is the glue that holds the group together. Every girl needs friends who can tell you the who/what/where/why of most of your major life moments, possibly because she has lived through most of them with you. The Lifer friend is someone who has been there with you through thick and thin and is not going anywhere, ever. You may choose different paths in life and there may come a time when you will be separated by distance and other relationships and commitments, but this is the friend that would drop everything to be by your side if you ever needed her. She will be the godmother of your children and the adopted daughter of your parents, she will be the one sitting next to you on a porch 50 years from now reminiscing about life and all the joy, sorrow, triumphs and failures it brought you both. Cherish the Lifers and Memory Keepers you have in your life.

The Hustler

The Hustler is portrayed by Zainab who moved to Ghana to start her own natural hair product business. She pours all her time and energy into making her business successful. Even through the trying times, Zainab always manages to keep her head above the water and proves that she deserves every bit of the success she has achieved. Every girl needs that Hustler chick among her circle of friends who is killing it professionally. Not only will she inspire you to aspire to greater heights, she is a fountain continuously springing forth invaluable advice on the dos and don’ts of navigating the business world. Your Hustler friend will have contacts and resources that you can tap into and before you know it, you might become the Hustler in your group as well.

_mgl1713_wide-16b39b505429f67d404daefba78df5598988f424The Uplifter

The sheer amount of change you will experience in your late 20s and early 30s is enough to leave anyone dazed and confused wondering why up is down and down is up and just how in God’s name you are supposed to make sense of it all. When I was about 25, I remember feeling like someone had pulled the rug out from under me. I was expected to graduate with honors, find a great, well-paying job, move into a nice, furnished apartment. Add to that I was to work long hours and still be out on the town every weekend having a good time, then get married, have a few babies all the while remaining a successful career woman. If it wasn’t for the grace of God, family and uplifting friends I would have gone crazy a long time ago. In “An African City”, Ngozi is the Uplifter, that one friend that you can always count on for an encouraging word when times are rough, the friend who not only listens attentively but also supports all your hopes and dreams, even the crazy, impractical ones. The Uplifter’s favorite word is “yes”. Sometimes it seems like the world is screaming no to all your efforts and that you are constantly being met with closed doors. When you’re just about ready to throw in the towel, it is refreshing to have that one voice that always says “”Yes, I believe in you”, “Yes, you can do it.”

The No BS’er

Say what you will about Sade’s character but she is actually my favorite character. While she appears to have many vices, Sade is the one character in the group who is always willing to call a spade a spade. And I believe every girl needs friends who will always tell them the truth, even when it hurts. Often, to keep the peace, girls avoid telling each other the ugly or painful truth. In the worst case scenarios, rather than telling the truth to the one in question, we tell it behind their backs and by the time the truth finally comes to light, it causes even more pain and drama than it would have we had been straightforward from the beginning. Here’s where the No BS’er comes in. While it may feel like the No BS’er friend’s sole purpose in life is to burst or bruise your ego, with time you realize that they’re not trying to be rude or malicious and it is all coming from a place of love. By always keeping it real, the No BS’er helps you to see a different perspective and encourages you to keep growing and changing. Isn’t that what life should be all about?

The Unlikely Friend

Now Makena’s character was a little harder to pin down into one type. She is a delightful medley of so many types: the social butterfly who seems to know where you can get just about anything at any point in time, the risk taker who left a high paying job in London to return to Ghana, the bad influence with a smoking habit and questionable taste in men. All of these combine to make Makena the Unlikely Friend of the group. One of my favorite authors, Anais Nin, has a quote that I absolutely love. It says, “Each friend represents a world in us, a world not possibly born until they arrive”. Whether it is choosing a girlfriend with a different nationality, culture, background, interests or life views, having that Unlikely Friend will only serve to expand your worldview and enrich your life in ways you could never have possibly imagined.

Are you a fan of “An African City” and could you spot any other friend types that we might have omitted from this list? What type of friend are you in your group of friends? Join the conversation and let us know what your thoughts are in the comments below.

#SisterhoodGoals: 2 things to learn from Lupita Nyong’o and Danai Gurira

Lupita and Danai

Lupita Nyong’o and Danai Gurira are history makers individually and now, collectively. Eclipsed, the play Danai wrote and Lupita stars in, is the first Broadway production that has a female playwright, a female director, and an all-female cast. The play which premiered last week has received incredible reviews, and we, of course, expected nothing less from these powerhouses.

Here are 2 things we learned about sisterhood, friendship, and business from these Motherland Moguls.

Keep your promises, even if it takes a couple of years

When Lupita arrived at Yale, the first role she was assigned to was to be an understudy in Eclipsed (written by Danai). From then on Lupita promised herself that she would one day do this play. She even mentioned the play in her first Vogue cover story and after a run at the Public Theater in 2015, Lupita emailed Danai and told her “Let’s do Eclipsed” and the rest is history.

Have you promised to take a look at your friends resume or give feedback on a new purse design? Stop procrastinating and follow through on your commitment. As friends and sisters, we need to lend each other a helping hand.

Your passion can inspire others

In Variety magazine Danai stated It’s very clear to me what my drive is. I tell African women’s stories. It doesn’t mean I don’t do other things, but that’s my thing. It’s rooted in a passion for that, and it’s rooted in a rage because I feel that they are so under- and misrepresented. I’m trying to link these two places, and have Africa be seen by the West in a more multidimensional, complex and celebratory way.”

Lupita and Danai - 2For Lupita, when she was deciding where to go to drama school, she was nervous about only doing work that focused on the Eurocentric point of view. When she arrived in the States from Kenya, she was so grateful that the first play she received was written by an African woman and focused on powerful female characters.

Danai followed her passion and created a play that has given other young African women the opportunity to shine. Lupita was inspired and motivated by the play at the beginning of her professional acting career. How many other young, African women have been inspired by Lupita’s acting and activism all across the globe?

Are you genuinely following your passions or you just managing with what you can do? You never know the impact your business idea, non-profit or role in a company can have on others. By following your passion, you can inspire and motivate others to achieve their goals. 

It can be easy to lose yourself on the journey to success. Sisterhood can challenge us to become better versions of ourselves and help us remember what is truly important. Sisterhood in our communities connects all of us like a spider web. If one part of the web tears we all feel it. Think about what we could collectively accomplish if we all kept our promises and helped motivate others like Lupita and Danai.