Vivian “Jokotade” Adeniyi: You are the only limitation to your potential

Jokotade: Believe it or not, The Jokotade Network didn’t happen by a plan Click To Tweet

Vivian Jokotade Adeniyi, fondly known as “Jokotade”, is a Nigerian-American author, speaker, and thought leader on topics relating to women, business and leadership. She is the founder of The Jokotade Network which hosts a variety of talk shows with audiences in over 100 countries. In addition to running her own network, Jokotade is a wife, mother and an entrepreneur.

Her life as a serial entrepreneur began at the age of six ,when she started assisting her mother with her retail goods business in Lagos, Nigeria. Jokotade has since launched a growing list of businesses. These include a leading full-service design and print firm located in Houston, Texas —a business she started with less than $100 over 12 years ago.

SLA contributing writer, Uloma Ogba, caught up with this Motherland Mogul to get the inside scoop on how exactly Jokotade does it all, while looking fabulous.


What does Jokotade mean and what exactly do you do?

My name Jokotade (pronounced JOE-KOH-TAH-DAY), is a Nigerian Yoruba name given to a child whose parents suffered the loss of a child prior to the birth of the named.  Its literal meaning is “sit with the crown” or “sit with royalty”. This signifies that this child will not die, but will stay and live with her parents and family. This powerful name was concurrently given by both of my grandmothers at my traditional Nigerian naming ceremony.

I use the name “Jokotade” for my speaking and writing platform because it is a very powerful and purposeful name. The name tells a story of my origin, gives you insight into my identity and speaks powerfully to my destiny. I write all of the inspiring details surrounding my birth in my breakout, bestselling book – Fresh Start.  Once you discover my full story, I have a sense you’ll simply call me “Jokotade”.

Vivian Jokotade Adeniyi: The name Jokotade tells a story of my origin & gives you insight into my identity Click To Tweet

Could you give the readers some insight into your background?

I was born in Lagos, Nigeria and moved to the United States of America with my parents in 1997. Shortly after I arrived in the US, I got to work beginning my American life as a hair braider. This was my only choice at the time, as I had to wait a full year to begin my university education.

I finally gained admission to the University of Houston where I majored in Computer Information Systems (CIS) with special interests in marketing and communications.

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What drove you to start your first business and continues to drive you to reach for new opportunities?

I’ll be honest —my motivation was hunger.  I was hungry for the opportunity to live out my potential.  I was hungry for the opportunity to start over in the United States; after experiencing a very rough and downward financial season with my parents back home in Nigeria.

For several years my dad (who is now a retired surgeon) had successfully operated a private medical practice. But right at the time I was finishing up my secondary school education, his practice suffered grievous losses due to lack of payments.

The idea of possibilities, of what can be, of who I can become, has driven me and continues to drive me everyday. It’s a beautiful thing to know that everyday you wake up, you truly can become more than you imagine.

I see each waking day as a canvas to paint on. I hope to make each day a beautiful work of art to remember.

Jokotade of @jokotadeshow is motivated to reach for new opportunities by hunger Click To Tweet

While in university, you started a business selling clothes and accessories to other students. How did you come up with that idea? What was the process like for you, setting up a business alongside your classes? How were you able to find balance there?

Do you know of any university student who couldn’t use some extra cash?

If there is one lesson I learned early as a hungry student, it is this —pay attention to the problems you can solve for people. In university, I became the go-to person when it came to shopping or finding affordable resources.

The idea of selling accessories to other students was born from a place of paying attention to these kinds of problems and the questions I was often asked. I simply turned these inquiries into a business. I often say that the best business ideas are the ones that solve as many problems as possible for as many people as possible.

Juggling my side business wasn’t easy but it was worth it —it helped me pay for a car. This reward motivated me to find a way to “juggle my hustle”. I made time to deliver goods over the weekend and focused on my classes during the week.

Jokotade: The idea of possibilities has driven me and continues to drive me everyday. Click To Tweet

After university you were involved in a couple of different activities which eventually culminated in what we now see today as The Jokotade Network. Can you take the readers through the journey of how you got to this point? What were some of the major milestones and challenges you faced along the way?

Believe it or not, The Jokotade Network didn’t happen by a plan. It happened by growth. Let me explain.

I began the Jokotade platform as a fashion and style blog…can you imagine? You see in 2013, I noticed there were several fashion and style bloggers but rarely did any of the bloggers feature the style of clothes I love to wear –classic, sophisticated, refined and polished.

Back then, there were hardly any who even featured stylish African clothes in these preferences. So you know what I did? I saw a gap in the market and I rose to fill it. I started blogging, featuring a choice of clothes that reflected my style. My selections and features quickly became a hit on social media, especially my Afrocentric selections. It literally caused a renaissance!

As I continued posting more photos, I noticed that my audience wanted more. The young women who followed me reached out to me asking me more questions about other areas of life. My audience asked how I balanced my passions with my marriage. They asked about raising a family. They asked about personal development. These were topics I could relate to.

A year later in 2014, I felt inspired to start a podcast with my name. I titled it The Jokotade Show. I had no idea what it would evolve into. The Jokotade Show became an avenue for me to cover a diverse set of topics to meet the many different needs of my audience.  I also developed an app for the convenience of my audience. Fast forward to 2016 in further response to those diverse needs, I broke up The Jokotade Show into specialized segments. This resulted in The Jokotade Network of Shows covering topics on life, love and business.

This process didn’t come easy for me in any way. I’ll be honest with you, I was nervous because I wasn’t sure of what I was doing. I had no one around me who had attempted this path before. I also got pregnant with my second baby during this period and as a result I struggled with consistency. It wasn’t easy but my followers stuck with me. I did my best to give them periodic updates.

Kgadi Mmanaka: I’m a self-acclaimed “possibilitarian”

Kgadi Mmanaka's photo should appear beside the dictionary definition of possibility Click To Tweet

Kgadi Mmanaka has made it her life purpose to plan the “seed of possibility” in the minds of people. Now we get why she calls herself a possibilitarian. At just 21 years old, Kgadi is heavily involved in equipping and inspiring people in her community especially around development and solving socio-economic issues.

When she’s not inspiring people with her speaking, Kagid runs The Possibilitarian Group, See Beyond the Clouds Foundation and KM-CDS, a strategy consulting company. She’s also a certified Associate Fellow of the Royal Commonwealth Society, an organisation working to promote values of Commonwealth citizens.


Tell us about your childhood.

Born and bred in Ga-Matlala Ga-Ramalapa, a rural village in Limpopo, I am the fifth and last in my family. I’m also the first to fill out an application form to study further after Matric.

I grew up in an abusive and violent home, an environment that gave me all the “good” reasons why I will amount to nothing in life. Growing up, I was a loner that was always depressed and felt so small around my peers.

My turning point came when I was in Grade 8 (I was 14 years old), when I made a vow to myself that I want to make sure that whatever choice I make in my life will get me to a point whereby I can come back and make a change at home. I wanted to live my life as far away as possible from my comfort zone.

At that point, I was really tired of being labelled poor and of waking up to bogobe ka meetse (pap and water) everyday. I knew that the tendency that has run through my family for ages can and will stop with me. I was the link between the past and the future.

That vow that I made when I was 14 drove me to become the top Matric achiever at my school. Today, when my family sends, “Please call Electricity” messages I can reply them with the voucher. I never want to return to where I’m from (my childhood) again but I will honour it forever.

I was really tired of being labelled poor and of waking up to pap and water everyday Click To Tweet

Kgadi Mmanaka the possibilitarian”, why do you call yourself that?

A possibilitarian is a person who knows that no matter how dark the clouds may be, there’s still the brightest sky up in there. A possibilitarian is a possibility thinker, has positive attitude towards life and gives a positive interpretation of a negative event that happens to them —they choose to see possibilities.

Finally, a possibilitarian refuses to be defined by circumstances.

If you could wake up in someone else’s body, who would you pick and what would you do?

I would pick any person who has superpowers to convince the students at higher learning institutions that there are other ways to send a message or rather communicate their demands besides the destruction of property (learning infrastructure).

For I think, the more the property is destructed the less chances of being granted their wishes i.e. free education. This regardless of the fact that they did the maths and free education is feasible.

As much as I understand what they’re fighting for, I am against the destruction of property because that doesn’t only delay the processing of their demand, but also the academics. A new strategy is needed that still emphasizes the demands but that doesn’t destruct the property nor delay academic activities.

A possibilitarian has positive attitude towards life Click To Tweet

“See beyond the clouds” is a very powerful name, tell us more.

See Beyond the Clouds is a foundation I founded to create an enabling environment that is rich in information, support and resources for youth in rural and township areas to better their lives and the society.

I was inspired to establish it for I have realized that past mistakes, failures and underprivileged background often-times are the reasons why most people’ dreams are diluted and why they give up in life. The mandate of the foundation is to create possibilities to help them “see beyond their clouds” and whatever attempting to dilute their dreams.

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The foundation seeks to transform youth from being job-seekers to job creators by introducing entrepreneurship as a long-term solution to unemployment through the Enterprise Development program. We also aim to increase higher education enrolment by exposing school and and out-of-school youth to post schooling opportunities and and information through the Career Development and Mentorship programs.

Lastly, the foundation seeks to equip youth with computer skills and make internet services available through the ICT skills program. With all these, the foundation seeks to help them See Beyond the Clouds.

Kgadi Mmanaka's foundation creates possibilities to help youth see beyond the clouds Click To Tweet

What have you always wanted? Did you ever get it ?

I’ve always wanted to live my life as far away as possible from my comfort zone. To make choices that will get me to a point whereby I can come back and change the economic status at home.

For me this is a process and not an event. Recently, I’ve just turned 21 and when I was reflecting, I was so proud of the choices I have made so far. Honestly, I can say I am off my comfort zone. I am determined to let those vows be the blueprint of my life.

Congratulations, you were selected as one of the 60 emerging women leaders that participated in Vital Voices mentoring walk SA. How did you make it?

Basically a mentoring walk is an event whereby emerging women leaders (mentees) are partnered with established women leaders (mentors) along industries. It creates an opportunity where time is spent together to give the mentee an opportunity to learn from the mentor and establish the mentorship relationship for the year ahead as they “walk in the park”.

This is a global initiative, when I was selected it was happening for the 3rd time in South Africa and was hosted by the flag bearer Hema Vallabh at Marks Park Club in Randburg. To be selected, you need to apply and meet the requirements —proven leadership potential, ability to “pay it forward” and mini essays— were amongst what was on the list.

Kgadi Mmanaka: I’m a self-acclaimed “possibilitarian” Click To Tweet

But I personally think my drive and passion played a vital role in all that, as well as how I poured myself out in those mini essays. Their age requirement was 22+ and at that time I was 19 and I made the cut. I give credit also to the person who came up with the “when an opportunity comes, seize it whether you’re ready or not” quote. I think that counted also.

On the topic of quotes, what’s you favourite quote and why?

“For I know the plans I have for you” declares the Lord. “Plans to prosper you and not to harm you.To give you a future and hope”- Jeremiah 29:11

This quote has helped and continues to help me to raise my sights to see possibilities when the going gets tough. Seeing possibilities is important to the person I am.

How do you want to be remembered?

I want to remembered as a definition of possibility.

A definition of possibility that inspired many to start seeing possibilities in their own lives.