Foodies Salone: Disrupting the Sierra Leonean hospitality industry

Foodies Salone is a Branding and Marketing Consultancy Firm founded by three young visionary women: Mariama Wurie, Aminata Wurie, and Onassis Kinte Walker.

In this interview, Mariama shares her story and thoughts about her journey as an entrepreneur.


How I turned my passion for food into a business

When I moved back to Sierra Leone in 2016, I started working for a local and an international NGO at the same time.

Since the NGO didn’t have an office, it was quite common to work from a café or restaurant to use the free Wi-Fi for the day. I spent a lot of time in my car driving between meetings and coffee shops.

Every day, my colleagues and I would work in a different place: new restaurants, new hotels, new cafes, etc.

Coming from Montreal where the food scene and customer service culture is amazing, I noticed this was not the case in Freetown. Everywhere I went, there was always a reason to complain to the manager, or ask to speak to the owner.

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Very quickly I realized that the same complaints were coming up wherever my partners and I went. We summarized that these problems were usually around product and service.

  1. In most restaurants, there was a lack of consistency in quality and menu variety – most restaurants served burgers, fries, pizza, pasta, shawarma.
  2. Most restaurants didn’t adjust their menus to focus on local ingredients.
  3. A lot of waiters were poorly paid and managers often did not invest in hospitality training.

We thought solutions to these issues will help restaurants achieve variety and consistency. Services like menu consulting, branding and customer service are just what many Freetown restaurants needed.

With Foodies Salone (Foodies), we decided to build something that would motivate establishments to step up their game and improve their standards.


How we started Foodies Salone

We tested out our business model through a lifestyle Instagram account. Our strategy was to highlight restaurants that were building Sierra Leone’s dining culture. Any featured restaurants had to be locally owned, pay fair wages and have good customer service.

With Sierra Leone’s small economy, restaurants rely on a limited customer base to make a profit. Within months of running an Instagram account, Foodies Salone began to influence consumer behavior.

Our social media test allowed us to establish ourselves as an authority in branding, marketing, staff training, online listing and advertising, and business development to the multiple restaurant owners who began to reach out to us to improve their product and service.

Soon enough, demand became bigger than 3 of us could handle. With our business model tested and validated, we created our service package, registered our company, and opened a bank account.

Lessons we’ve learned

Educating the market

At the beginning, restaurant owners did not understand what we were trying to do.

We were talking about apps, websites, and social media, but they barely knew how to use Pinterest. We worked extremely hard to find simple ways to explain what we did and how it would help them.

Factoring in knowledge and infrastructure gaps was not something we had initially considered. For startups looking to innovate in unstructured markets, this should be something to consider in your game plan.

Be patient with your monetization plan

As three young African women trying to run a business in our own country, we faced a lot of hostility. On top of that, my own friends were quite skeptical about what I was doing.

The beginning was quite hard because I had no money. I was dead broke for the first nine months.

Most people knew about the Foodies Salone Instagram page, but they did not understand how we planned to monetized the brand. They were constantly asking me: “do you even have a real job? How do you make money? How can you afford to travel?”

When we started, we made a conscious decision not to touch the money we made and to re-invest all the profits into the business. I was living on my savings and nothing was coming in. It’s only when it became hard to put gas in the car to drive to a meeting that we started using part of the profits.

When you start a business, times are going to get hard. But, just stick with it. Forget the haters. forget the gossip. You have something good here and it's amazing – @MariamaWurie_ Click To Tweet

Just stick with it. You’re broke? Yeah, it’s a start-up. It will get better.

Advice for anyone looking to start a company?

  1. Solve a problem. Necessity is the mother of invention. If you are looking for inspiration on what kind of business to start, think about things that are lacking in your routine.
  2. Do NOT accept freebies. Some people will try to get you to work for free with gifts. Always assess the value of what you are given and the reasons why they are given before accepting.
  3. Stay professional. As a woman, people will be more critical of you. Make sure you keep everything professional. Stick to business.


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IT’S ALL ABOUT THE MONEY Goals

The year is drawing to a close and it’s the perfect time to start reflecting on the year. You need to be able to answer questions like:
  • What worked for you in 2018?
  • What did not work for you in 2018?
  • What do you need to start doing in 2019?
  • What do you need to stop doing in 2019?
  • How do you need to be in 2019 in order to attain your goals?
You probably think that it’s way too early to start planning for the next year. We all know though, that for the better part of December we get so caught up in the fanfare that comes with the holidays. We think that we do not have enough time to step out and plan adequately for the coming year. Remember, if you fail to plan, you plan to fail - Prisca Motogwa Click To Tweet Let’s go a step further by talking about money! Yes, money! How many of us stop to reflect on how we are doing with respect to money matters?
  • Where are you financially?
  • Do you even know where you are at?
  • Are you happy with where you are at?
  • If you know where you at, did you get there by luck or was there a plan in place?
  • What do you want to achieve?
  • Are there some changes you need to make to your lifestyle to attain your financial goals?
Money is a complicated subject. It is an emotional subject. We all interact with it differently depending on our money personality. If your money affairs are in disarray, it is highly unlikely that you will achieve your full potential - Prisca Motogwa Click To Tweet According to Money Harmony – when it comes to money, you are either a hoarder, an avoider, a spender, an amasser or a money monk. Hoarders view money as a form of security and work towards accumulating as much of it as possible. Avoiders, simply ignore money issues. Spenders believe that they deserve every good thing and will have no qualms in buying things even when they cannot afford them. Amassers like to have loads of money to either spend, save or invest.  Money monks view money as the root of all evil. Which money personality are you? Find out your money personality here. Bill Hybels says that self-awareness allows you to self-correct. When you know better, you ought to do better. There is no ideal money personality. Each personality has its strengths and weaknesses. The most important thing is to identify which money personality you present, take advantage of the strengths that it brings and works on managing the weaknesses that it presents. The starting point for all of us, regardless of our money personalities, is to prepare a financial plan for 2019 - Prisca Motogwa Click To Tweet Research indicates that women are lagging behind men in financial literacy and that majority of women lack confidence with respect to money management. Dear sister, it is very simple. If your money affairs are in disarray, it is highly unlikely that you will achieve your full potential. There will always be something dragging you back. A study undertaken by Schwab in 2012 found that women who prepared a written financial plan were more confident with regard to money matters than those who did not. Basically the starting point for all of us, regardless of our money personalities, is to prepare a financial plan for 2019.  Oh, and it is not enough just to put in place a financial plan, you need to live by that plan. The Future is Female, but as females, we need to get control over our money. After all, it’s all about the money!
 Now that you know your money personality, what are you going to do in order to attain your financial goals?

A MINIMALIST’S PERSPECTIVE TO SETTING GOALS

Goal setting is paramount to individuals as it helps with the rebranding, focus, and orderliness of life. I mean, we all have aspirations and dreams and accomplishments we would love to attain yes?

And when it comes to aiming that peak, it’s all about good intentions, yes?

When it comes to sharing our aspirations with others, we get bold, we get optimistic, and we get daring, yes? Most people even go as far as creating reward systems for themselves, like when I positively tick so soon my goal list, I have to get me some Birkin Bag because I sure deserve it! Right?

So why do we let the negative kill our vibe? Why is it that we often fall short of the goals we set for ourselves? How come we wonder why we are at the same place we were years past, with the same poor habits and no sign of progress?

It’s simple.

Start simple and work your way from the ground up Click To Tweet

The answer to the entire why questions are because as human beings, complicated is our tag names, no offense. We tend to overcomplicate and make vague the steps necessary to accomplish the goals we set for ourselves.

As there are loads of various perspectives to setting goals, this article gives you another strategy to set and look at your goals progressing from a minimalist’s perspective.

LITERALLY, HUG BIG PICTURE IDEAS

This may be very contrary to what minimalist’s belief in but its standard. Embracing that big light bulb idea will make one hone in on what we tend to get out of this life.

This idea may range from securing a major deal in your niche, wanting a big family or just being financially well off. It could be anything that tickles your fancy, just make sure you write it down on a paper with your lovely pen.

Note: it’s important to take the time to grasp what you want your life to be all about, and what you would want to achieve big time.

PRIORITIZE THE PARAMOUNT

This is the forte of minimalists. So once you’re done listing out your big ideas and dreams’, noting the order of importance is the next step.

When you create a prioritized list, you are getting rid of the confusing clutter and allowing yourself focus on what you truly want to accomplish.

So this is it: you create a list of your goals beginning with the most important to achieve at this point in your life to the least important.

Note: One has to realize that the goals found at the bottom of the list are still important but not as crucial as the ones found at the top. Now, success is just around the corner because you have something real, a real end goal you wish to achieve and not just wishful thinking goals.

CREATE TANGIBLE STEPS

Now that your priorities have been set, you can start using this information to pinpoint steps that would help you achieve the most important goal on your list.

Remember, you need to take time out and think deeply for you to establish well thought out steps to achieving your goal.

Now, try to begin with the most basic achievement you can think of. As with how we humans evolved, and our learning process, we started learning A, B, C before forming sentences. So start simple and work your way from the ground up. Remember with previous steps, it’s important to note them down so you can refer back to them later.It helps when you keep your laid out thoughts short, black & white and precise so it’s clear to see if you have successfully accomplished a step…or not.

This phase is more or less, understanding the significance of creating a solid foundation that is easy to grasp and build upon.

GET RID OF THE CLUTTER

As a minimalists’ main goal is to declutter in all aspects of life, this works in setting goals as well. Any step or thing that doesn’t aid in your success should be scratched out, with every ounce of intentionality and no looking back.

Anything that proves as a barrier in achieving your goals, be it an excess of social events, ideas, obligations, people or items, scratch ‘em out, please.

Now don’t get me wrong, they may not be negative influencers, in general, but they may be distractive and you won’t be needing any distractions when it comes to pinpointing the goals and heights you want to attain at a certain period.

We need focus vibes and not distraction vibes.

If you want to lead a simple life, scratch the reward system, let go of that chocolate and be bold. Click To Tweet

REWARD SYSTEM…OR NOT.

Reward system is an innocent idea but totally unnecessary. For minimalists, they see value in the lifestyle they have opted in for and they know there’s a light at the end of the tunnel.

They know the rewards and gains they have to look forward to by achieving their goals and so they embrace the simple idea that for every phase completed, they are a step closer to achieving their desired goals.

This setting goal strategy may be very tough on people and opting in for the reward system is not a bad idea but if you want to lead a simple life, scratch the reward system, let go of that chocolate and be bold.

REVAMPED LIFESTYLE

A minimalist strategy to setting goals gives a more defined approach to things and a simple approach to creating and meeting your desired goals.

Once you’re done setting your goals, you start getting results in your overall lifestyle, positive results as that’s the beautiful outcome of setting goals.

It’s more like you put in hard work in one area of your life and you see a transformation in other areas. Keep that in mind.

Note: Don’t try to skip previous steps to jump. It doesn’t work that way as the steps work hand in hand and can be confusing when you do one without the other.

Achieving your goals using the steps and systems embedded in this minimalists perspective to setting goals will create an easy path to follow and remember there is no rush or time limit. Just don’t invite procrastination to the party and we will be good.

Good luck!


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AMBER WILLIAMS: PEOPLE DON’T BUY PRODUCTS. THEY BUY STORIES

Amber Williams is the founder of Punkyflair, a brand story shop that serves beauty, fashion, and lifestyle startups. Building iconic statement-making brands is her jam, and she is committed to helping businesses grow authentically through a story.

Through Punkyflair, Amber has positioned new businesses in the marketplace, molded magnetic personalities, crafted money-making narratives, and named global product collections for leading brands like Camille Rose, Heat Free Hair, Shea Radiance, and Marjani.

Amber Williams connects young brands to the customers they want to reach through a story. She believes that story is the most critical business asset for one simple reason: it can’t be duplicated.

It is the key to building a brand that will withstand the test of time and last forever.

In this interview, she discusses how you can best understand your audience, communicate your vision, and sell with a story.  


Tell us how and why you started Punkyflair

 

My early career was spent in corporate America where I used my formal training in psychology and integrated marketing to create and launch brand strategies for companies like Armani Exchange, Volkswagen, The United States Olympic Committee, and Feeding America.

I was working within a world of limitless resources and possibilities in marketing. I had the freedom to be creative, spend however much was needed, and most importantly – test the water.

After several years of implementing creative brand marketing campaigns, I realized that my signature approach to every strategy I created was rooted in a story.

Every idea, every narrative, and every message I built told a story. Inadvertently, I used my knack for writing and understanding of human behavior to put words together that would sell clothing, jewelry, cars, and even promote funds for world-renowned athletes.

Every idea, every narrative, and every message I built told a story - @punkyflair Click To Tweet

I was a storyteller. At 29, I decided that I would package up my approach and all of my corporate learnings into a framework that would help startups launch and grow their businesses.

I created Punkyflair to empower entrepreneurs with the tools, training and thinking necessary to understand their audience, communicate their vision, and sell with the story.

Today, I have the good fortune of doing so for leading woman-owned brands like Camille Rose, Heat Free Hair, Marjani, BLK+GRN, and Shea Radiance.

What is brand storytelling and where does it fit in marketing strategy?


Simply put, brand storytelling is a method for connection. If you consider your favorite storybook or movie, there is most likely a character in it that resonates most with you.

Maybe it’s because you see yourself in them. Perhaps it’s because that character represents who you want to be. All great stories make you look at yourself and consider how you connect to the tale being told. Brand storytelling is no different.

A great brand story lets your customers know why you exist and how you fit into their lives. When done well, your brand provides the perfect reflection for who they already are but better.  Brand storytelling is the most effective, non-salesly way to build meaningful and profitable relationships with the customers you want to reach.

A great brand story lets your customers know why you exist and how you fit into their lives.” - @punkyflair Click To Tweet

How can businesses effectively explore the core elements that make up their customer profile?

 

All businesses should view their customers as the star characters in their brand story. Everything that your brand does–from operations to product innovation and marketing–should be built around your customer. It always amazes me how many entrepreneurs are willing to skip this essential first step.

A strong customer profile is made up of three key elements: perspective, preference, and personality. Understanding your customer’s perspective is all about figuring out where your customer is coming from, the unique challenges they face, and what they really want from your brand.

The next step is to discover what your customer prefers by digging deep to understand purchase motivators and where your brand solution fits into their lives. Finally, you’ll want to explore your customer’s personality traits.

Doing so will help you tailor your messaging in a way that gets the people you want to reach to listen and buy from you.

A strong customer profile is made up of 3 key elements: perspective, preference, and personality - @punkyflair Click To Tweet

As they discover their customers, how do businesses determine the best approach in talking to their audience?

 

Now that you know more about your customers, you’ll want to speak to them in a language that they understand. The best approach is first to visualize precisely who this person is. Bringing the person you want to reach to life humanizes your communication.

It brings back the reality that you, as the brand, are talking to a real person. When working to craft your narrative, ask yourself these four questions:

  • Why does my brand exist?
  • What problem do we solve for our customers?
  • What values or beliefs do we stand on as a business?
  • How do our products/services make our customers’ lives better?

The answers to these questions make up your core brand narrative, letting your customers know exactly why they should trust and buy from you. Plaster them everywhere (tactfully of course)!

As businesses increasingly incorporate storytelling in marketing strategy, how can “Motherland Moguls” craft a brand story that yields customer action?

The marketplace is getting extremely crowded! It’s never been harder to cut through the clutter than it is now. Customers are continuously bombarded with marketing messages and brands are spending a significant amount of money just to stay visible.

In this landscape, the challenge lies in not only being seen, but in making money also. The best way that Motherland Moguls can yield a favorable action from their target customers is to keep a pulse on their customers’ wants and needs.

Don’t get too caught up in the competition and what they’re doing. Always remember that people are buying from your brand for a reason. Serve them and then explore what else you can create to serve them again. Be authentic and tell the story only you can sell.

What’s your go-to advice to a business owner trying to instill more brand storytelling?

 

My go-to advice is simple: take yourself out of it. Simple, right? The #1 thing you must do to grow your brand and instill more storytelling is to get yourself out of it.

Sure, you are the founder and mastermind behind the business. It was your sweat equity and creativity that launched the brand. You identified a problem and created a solution. It’s your baby. I get it.

However, if you want your baby to grow, you have to move out the way and tell a story in your marketing that centers around the customer, not yourself. Customers are drawn to brands that they can see themselves.

Make your story a two-way dialogue, not a diatribe about your own journey. Spend some time understanding what matters to your people: what values they hold, what additional problems they face, what viewpoints they have on the world and your industry. Create stories from the deeper emotional layers that (above all else) truly connect customers to brands.  

Customers are drawn to brands that they can see themselves. - @punkyflair Click To Tweet

What product and service offering do you have in the works to help rising entrepreneurs with brand storytelling?

 

I recently released Customer Kamikaze. my 3-part customer discovery framework. It’s the exact same framework I’ve used to help my startup clients scale their businesses (some into the millions) by understanding their customers and building their brand stories around them.

People love it because it’s self-paced and fun! The exercises are intuitive, simple and impactful. Also, the result, once the framework is applied, is far higher than the minimal cost of the product.

I wanted to create something super affordable, even for early-stage entrepreneurs, but something that would have a tremendous impact and set the tone for a brand story that sells.

What are you most excited about at the moment, and what are you working on next?

 

I’m most excited about my next chapter! I want to move in a direction that allows me to help multiple entrepreneurs at once. This fall, I’ll be speaking more and even playing around with group coaching and live workshops.

Brand story is a concept that I absolutely love teaching and one that I love to see entrepreneurs benefit.

Amber Williams is offering a free audio training on building lasting brands. Contact her here.


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Chioma Ezekwesili highlights the Essentials to Building and Growing Your Blog

“The main essential for starting a blog is to first have a passion for something”. – Chioma Ezekwesili

Blogging is a great platform to express yourself, build a brand, and even make a source of income. Due to the diverse benefits of blogging, there is an influx of blogs and bloggers.

This can make the process of building and growing your blog daunting. You might question whether it is worth it and how do you go about building this presence online?

In this interview with fashion and lifestyle blogger Chioma Ezekwesili, she provides inspiration for prospective and current bloggers on her experience of starting and building her blog and brand.


 When and why did you decide to start your fashion and lifestyle blog and what were the essentials to beginning it?

 

The main essential for starting a blog is to first have a passion for something. It could be cooking, fashion,  gossip, politics, and other topics. You don’t have to be an English guru but you should always endeavor to read something new about your passion.

This is significant because you can then provide your readers with new insights into your niche. In addition, you will be able to come up with new and diverse ways to relate to your readers.

Secondly, you should draft a consistent timetable. It’s hard at the beginning but once you start, keep at it. Every day, have a topic you can write on. What will help you is approaching each day with an open mind? Also, make sure the photos, write up or videos are original because it allows your readers to connect with your originality.

As for myself, I started my fashion and lifestyle blog in 2015 but I couldn’t keep up with it. This was because I started the previous blog with the sole purpose of making money. The blog was just alive for about three months and that was it.

Then, I officially started www.yhitschioma.com in July 2016. This blog is out of my love for fashion. I also felt the need to express my opinion on lifestyle tips. I try to make my posts inspirational. I merge fashion styles to relatable inspirational quotes. I want to let people know that fashion is more than wearing designer clothes. Fashion is also a way of passing a positive message to the people around you.

I grew my 7k followers on Instagram by posting my Sunday bests every Sunday and tagged it #fashionforchurch - @Yh_ItsChioma Click To Tweet

What is the best platform for intending media influencers to be on and why?

Instagram and Twitter are the best platforms, dependent on the type of influencer you are. Instagram is mainly for fashion, lifestyle, and style. It’s best for visual appeal through photos and videos. Then, Twitter is good for sports lovers, especially soccer.

The discussions on Twitter around the leagues is something that anybody building his/her brand around soccer needs to be on. Twitter is also a good platform for having discussions about politics, sports, music, health tips and more.

I advise that you be linked on both platforms. That way, whatever you post on one can reflect on the other. However, more attention should be placed on the social media platform primarily for your type of brand.

Social media metrics are ever changing and for those looking to make an impact online, the competition is increasing. Is it possible to grow one’s social media organically?

 

Yes, you can grow organic followers and I am a testimony to it. I grew my 7k followers on Instagram by posting my Sunday bests every Sunday and tagged it #fashionforchurch. Every Sunday, people were looking forward to what I wore to church. Once you find out what your followers like, stick to it and be consistent.

Do not buy followers because interactions on your post will not match your followership. That matters because people and brand will immediately see through that.

The first year might not be easy but keep posting. Also, make sure you use hashtags because they work like magic.

What is your process of growing your brand presence?

 

Building your brand starts with a conscious effort to actually build the brand.

  • Find the social media platform that suits what you are trying to build
  • Try to make your followership on any social media platform that you are on organic. If you are on Instagram, never miss relevant hashtags like #MCM #MondayMotivation #WCW #TBT #FBF or things like that.

You can even come up with your own personal hashtag that people can follow through your post. For me, it’s #LifeOfAStartingEntrepreneur and #yhitschioma.

If Twitter is your platform, be sure to check the trending hashtags and draft your tweets around it.

  • Finally, you have to be consistent your post on social media. Be sure to have your contact details available for people to reach you. Reply and like comments so that there is a discussion around your post.

How can one stand out and be unique online?

You stand out by being real. Don’t try to be in competition with anyone. Rather, you should strive to be a better version of yourself.

Keep doing what you love and don’t copy others. Be original with your posts.

What steps should an aspiring media influencer take to attract opportunities to work with organizations, brands, and collaborations?

 

Keep your profile open not private. Make sure you give credit to other brands you are wearing or using on your page. Then, you get other brands to notice that you are promoting other brands. They will then want to work with you.

For blog collaborations, if you never reach out to people, you might not have anyone reach out to you. Last year, I sent about 5-6 messages to other bloggers like myself for collaboration.

However, I got turned down by about 4 and I didn’t mind. I did a collaboration with the bloggers that wanted to. The result is that other bloggers saw it and then reached out to me for collaboration. That’s why you have to make sure you put yourself out there.

Then, you have to keep doing what you have been doing using hashtags to get noticed. In time, the right brands will find you.

You can also send DMs to them by telling them you will like to work with them. Give them an offer they can’t resist. An offer that will help both parties build their brand.

You stand out by being real. Don’t try to be in competition with anyone - @Yh_ItsChioma Click To Tweet

How does one stay motivated to be able to produce and create?

 

The main way to stay motivated is to remember why you started your blog. Remember the vision you had for your brand and hold on to it. Sometimes, it might not pay off immediately but with consistency and determination, it will supersede your expectation.

Lastly, reach out to longtime brands and know how they were able to stay motivated. Do not beat yourself up, especially when you see other influencers “doing” better.

Take that as a push and initiative to work harder. Always celebrate the big and small victories you might have because that will motivate you to keep at it.


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Self-care Secrets for Healthy Motherland Moguls

Motherland Moguls can be some of the busiest women in the world. They are mothers, wives, boss ladies, friends and everything else in between. Many times, they often prioritize other people’s needs above their own and forget about their own self-care. 

But why is self-care important for a motherland mogul? 

Self-care is the art of understanding one’s needs and meeting them. This simply means showering yourself with kindness and goodness. With the right amount of self-care, you can grow emotionally, physically and spiritually.  

Awino Omole put together for us some secrets for motherland moguls to maintain a healthy self-care routine. 


Sometimes all you need is to get in touch with your senses to stay in the present moment. Click To Tweet

1. Create goals

Setting achievable goals is a critical part of having a self-care routine. Other people will come with their interests and goals. However, you shouldn’t neglect your goals as this is important towards your growth.

To set your goals, you can break them into smaller portions. Through this, you will eventually live to see your dreams turn into actionable plans.

2. Be your best friend

We can be our own worst enemies if we want. How many times have you judged yourself a lot harsher than others have? When the weight of self-care kicks in; perfectionism seems to be the order of the day.

But you need to learn to be easy on yourself. Being your own cheerleader will help you put things into perspective during those moments of self-doubts. Once you learn to love yourself first, then you can love others better.

3. Laugh at your flaws

In all that you are going through, it is important not to drown in your storm. You should strive to be an individual who embraces their flaws and knows their awesomeness regardless of all the flaws they may have.

We all have those moments we don’t want to share with others. Despite this, it is very important that you learn to accept your flaws and insecurities and learn to live with them.


4. Slow down

Live one day at a time. Create time outside your normal daily routine to love yourself or to just do nothing. If you don’t have much of a social life, find ways to nurture new and meaningful relationships.

Above all, it is also important to debrief yourself on your progress. Sometimes you need to have a board meeting with yourself to see if you are meeting your goals but also to ignite your passions when you feel like you are losing touch.


5. Talk about your fears

We all get a little scared sometimes. But we should not let our fears paralyze our dreams. When it is getting tough, you should find a trustworthy person and explain your fears. Through talking to someone, they may help you sift through your problems and come up with a solution.

Sometimes all you need is to get in touch with your senses to stay in the present moment. To do this you may need to zone out. Walk away from what is normal. It is okay to retreat inwards and not engage at all. It may seem selfish, but it is important to get in touch with your self.


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Confessions of a Career Loving Mum

I am a wife and mum to three amazing children, a girl who just turned six and a set of twins who are 3 years 6 months. Beyond that, I am also a marketer for a multinational company. My job involves a lot of travel that takes me away from my family a lot of times.

About two years ago, I accepted a work assignment that moved us to another country, away from our extended family and support structure. While I love my family and I am fully cognizant of the fact that I am the only mother my children have, the truth is, I also love my career!

Many women in my position struggle trying to balance their love for these two things. In this article, you’ll find some of the lessons I’ve learned over the years as a working mum.

 

Be kind to yourself

As mothers, we often have the tendency to judge ourselves based on what our children can or cannot do. I remember, when my twins were younger, I once overheard a mother speaking of how her 10-month-old baby was already potty trained and slept throughout the night.

At the time, my twins who were near twice that age were not potty trained and barely slept throughout a whole night. For a moment, I felt that I was not doing something right – maybe if I spent more time with them it would be different.

Then it occurred to me that I am not in competition with anyone and neither are my children. With patience and at their own pace, my kids would soon figure out how to use the potty and sleep through the night. Most importantly, I needed to be kind to myself.

 

Use the right words

Having often heard words such as “full-time mom” being, I have always wondered what it really meant. Did it make me a “part-time mom” because I was away working for eight hours?

The truth is, despite being a mum who goes to work, I am also still a full-time mother to my children. Yes, I don’t spend the majority of my days with them, however, I still fully embrace my full-time motherhood responsibilities just as I do in my career.

 

Block the naysayers

My first business trip was when my twins were four months old. Luckily enough for me, my mother came and looked after my twins for the four nights I was away. However, when I got back, one not so gentle colleague cornered me and asked me what kind of mother I was to go away and leave such young kids.

This experience and many others taught me early on to learn to block such people. I had a conscious choice to be both a mother and to continue work. Therefore, I knew what I was doing and wouldn’t let others judge me for my choices.

 

It’s okay to ask for help

People and society, in general, will always have opinions of what you “should” do and should not do when it comes to your children. You should do X by yourself when it comes to your children you should do Y and not the nanny.

There was a time when I would do everything that needed to be done for my children by myself. Not only was this not sustainable, but I soon realized that I was no superwoman and had to learn to ask for help and accept it when it was offered.

Don’t give in to pressures that say you have to do everything – it’s okay to ask for help.

 

Build a network with other working moms

Sometimes, it’s easy to think that you are the only going through what you are going through. Personally, talking with other working moms helped me realize that I was not the only one going through stuff.

Getting together and sharing what we were going through as working mothers truly helped. We were able to share notes on how we were handling certain situations.

Inspired by this, I created the Mum’s in Stilettos community where through social media and the blog, working mum’s come together to share their lessons. Such platforms encourage you that you are not alone and that you can manage being a working mother successfully.


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

9 Business Lessons from My First Year of Business

Like many people, I was faced with the dilemma of deciding whether or not I needed to attend business school to start my business as I had no experience. However, I finally decided to be brave and start my business without any experience.

In my one year since starting, I have learned the following lessons.


1. Never take things too personally.

When operating with people, it’s often very easy to make arguments, criticism and other relations personal. However, if you want to succeed in the business world, you need to remember that at the end of the day, how you deal with your customers and partners is strictly business and not personal.

2. Separate your business life from your personal life.

When you have a friendly relationship with your clients, it is very easy for the lines to get blurred. Sometimes, this can end up in sticky situations where one party does not fulfill their end of the deal. To avoid these situations, it is important to set the lines clear between your business and your personal life. You need to maintain a work-life balance.

3. Be clear about your job description.

As a service based business, one of my ethos is going beyond and above for my clients. Sometimes, this results in taking up certain duties (aka unpaid labor) that are not part of my job description. This can get overwhelming.

Therefore, it is important to be clear about ALL the services that your offer from the onset. If necessary, you should draw up contracts that reflect your services and your limits.

4. Review your prices regularly.

You might be doing yourself a great disservice if in a bid to come across as affordable you under-price yourself. It is important to review your prices as often as possible. Especially when you’re in an industry like social media where your responsibilities are flexible and subject to change.

5. Be accountable.

In the absence of a business partner or a co-founder, you need to learn how to hold yourself accountable. This can be as easy as setting small, medium and long-term goals and working toward them. These goals are important to give you a sense of direction and to keep you in check.

6. Toot your horn.

One of the few things I still struggle with is putting myself out there as I’d like for my business to speak for itself. But the game has changed and the internet is over saturated. The only way for you to be noticed or to come across as a thought-leader or an expert in your field is if you put yourself out there.

There are no two ways about it. Do you want to be the go-to person for a particular service? Put yourself out there and let people know.

7. Have confidence in yourself.

When you are running a business, you’re gonna need all the confidence you can muster for the tough days ahead. You will face people who don’t believe in your dreams and your plans may even fail. It is important to keep believing in yourself even when others don’t.

8. Find time to improve your skills.

Work/Life can be overwhelming sometimes and before you know it, three months have gone by without you learning anything new. In this ever-changing world, there’s a need to constantly improve your skills.

Thankfully we have the internet at our disposal but finding the time can be a challenge. To fix this, make a schedule maybe during the public holidays and learn something that would directly improve your daily activities.

9. Customer service is key.

Just because you’re not selling a product to a consumer doesn’t mean customer service is any less important. You’re selling services. Treat your clients with courtesy. Referrals are still king.


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

 

How to be a BAWSE: Lily Singh’s best tips on how to conquer life

Lily Singh is best known for her Youtube channel Superwoman which has over 1 billion views and has featured guests ranging from Michelle Obama to Zendaya.

Her book, How to Be a Bawse: A Guide to Conquering Life describes a BAWSE as a`a person who exudes confidence, reaches goals, gets hurt efficiently, and smiles genuinely because they’ve fought through it all and made it out the other side`. 

She emphasizes that life is not about surviving but rather taking the decisive steps to have more effective control over your life, choices, and actions.  

Here are some of our favorite tips from the book to get you started on your ride to be a BAWSE.


Conquer your thoughts

We are the products of our thoughts, what we think affects how we treat others and allow others to treat us.

Conquering your thoughts put you in charge of yourself. It means being accountable for the things you say and do. So when you find yourself in a situation that challenges you or makes you feel a certain way ask yourself WHY you feel a certain way, WHAT made you perform a certain action, and HOW you could do things differently.

The information you discover is powerful because it helps you to discover patterns and in turn use your mind productively and efficiently.

Words lie, actions lie too, but consistency speaks the truth

Now if that line doesn’t speak truth to you, I don`t know what will! Consistency is key: people determine who you are depending on what you do.

If you are always late to meet that deadline or never do that task you said you would do, people will come to know you as the unreliable person. That is not the reputation you want to have.

Consistency and habits breed good behavior, you begin to create patterns that show people that they can trust, rely and count on you. If you want to be taken seriously, you need to show people who you are and then keep showing them.

Seek out situations that make you uncomfortable 

Comfort Zones: we love them, they make us feel happy and safe. When we are in a situation that we do not feel is tailored from us we tend to panic and act out. We basically do not cope because it is not the reality we know or are used to.

Use an uncomfortable moment as a learning tool, what does it say about you, what are you doing to address this uncomfortable situation. What can you learn? Being uncomfortable does not mean sit back and refuse to do anything, just because its no longer the norm for you.

You have to be proactive, take matters into your hands, see what difference can come out of this experience.

If you want to stay in the league, keep up to date on the game

Learning is a lifetime process. There is always room to further your education and skills, no matter how high up the career ladder you get. Do not become too self-assured that you do not think you have any more lessons to learn.

Learning more about advances in your field can help you shape your goals, enhance your career and keep you above the rest. Do not presume you know it all or that you have become an expert whose opinion is the only one that matters.

Take time to refine your skills and competencies. This does not just refer only to taking short or online courses to nurture and grow your skills, it also refers to the lessons you can learn from others around you.

A brilliant quote from the book is “Being the dumbest person on your team doesn’t make you a stupid person; it means you are smart enough to select people to work with you can learn from”.

This means surround yourself with people you can learn from. Asking questions when you don`t know is not a shortfall, it is dedicating yourself to learning something new.

Don’t be afraid to ask for things. 

The worst that will happen is that you’ll be told no!

Too often than not, we tell ourselves `no` before we even do what we wanted to achieve. We become the roadblocks to our own goals.

But, what if you denied yourself a yes, an upgrade or a promotion? ASK AND YOU SHALL RECEIVE. It is a famous line for a reason. If you do not ask, you will never get what you want. You do not even open yourself up to the option of getting it.

Do not be afraid to put yourself out there, to request for more when you know you deserve it. Sure, we are all scared of rejection but that allows us to adjust and try again with something better that works.

A Motherland Mogul knows her worth and when to ask for it to be respected. Do not talk yourself out of asking for that raise, state your case and demand your prize. You may just surprise yourself by getting exactly what you asked for.


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Mo Abudu: It’s an honor that people liken my work to that of Oprah Winfrey

Mo Abudu is one of  Africa’s most successful women. She is a media giant for Africa in broadcasting, an entrepreneur, and a talk show host.

She is the founder of Ebonylife TV, an African multi-broadcast entertainment network, that portrays Africa at its best.

Over the years she has created a signature brand that resonated with black audiences both in Africa and its diaspora. 

Described as Africa’s very own Oprah’,  Mo is keen in her resolve to rewrite Africa’s story. 

We learn more about her journey and of  her trending project (Sisterhood awards) for African women in the industry, that is empowering women to work together to accomplish great things  while also celebrating women who have excelled in laudable achievements’

 Ebony life is a contributor to the Annual Discop Africa and we caught up with the station in presenting its projects with the rest of Africa in exposing African content to the rest of the world.

 


 

What’s your background, and why business?

I was born in the U.K to Nigerian parents. I moved to Lagos in 1993 and spent more than a decade in the corporate world, where I launched a consulting firm, and later a hotel.

However, my love for film and telling African stories brought me to a totally different ball game. I found myself working towards Ebony life TV channel and films.

There are so many African stories that are yet to be told”. “Let’s take these stories to the world now, that’s the journey we’re on,” says Mo.

 

How difficult is it to own and run and whole TV station?

It’s been just over a decade since I launched the ritzy entertainment and lifestyle network, Ebony life channel in eastern Nigeria.

I have now opened a new studio in Lagos, the country’s entertainment and media capital.  For me, it has been all about keeping with a philosophy passion and love.

 

There are so many African stories that are yet to be told - @MoAbudu Click To Tweet

You are often nicknamed the “ Oprah of Africa”, why do you think people call you that?

 

In 2013 I had decided to put my investments and time to the launch of my network, Ebony Life TV. It was the first fully Nigerian-owned entertainment channel to be carried on the South African pay-tv platform – DStv.

Many take my work and development in the broadcasting industry as a following in Oprah’s footsteps. It’s an honor that they liken my work and journey to that of Oprah Winfrey.

My contributions and work in the range of original reality programming, drama series, and news magazines may be the outline that makes people compare me with Oprah, I guess. Also, talk shows have somehow resonated with black audiences both in Africa and its diaspora.

Ebony Life now airs in the U.K. and the Caribbean. It is soon to be airing in the U.S. and Canada.

Who are the inspiring people you’ve come across on this journey?

In 2006 I launched “Moments with Mo,” it then became the first syndicated daily talk show in the continent.

I’ve sat across from a remarkable range of guests, from Nigerian Noble Laureate, Wole Soyinka to fashion designer, Diane von Furstenberg, and even then-U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.

 

In 2013, I put my investments and time to the launch of Ebony Life TV - @MoAbudu Click To Tweet

What is your vision for creating African content in broadcasting and film?

We have many African stories that are yet to be told.

When I first approached DStv with the proposition that Africa was ripe for its own Oprah Winfrey or Ellen DeGeneres show, I had already planned for a global TV channel opportunity.

I explored channel possibilities with SKY in the UK and knew that I needed a big platform to project Africa in a different, more positive light. This was what incited me to start thinking of establishing Ebonylife TV and take African Stories to the world.

 

The network’s global ambitions, sums up with the tagline “Made in Nigeria for the world”, tell us more about that?

To address this, Ebonylife TV last year partnered with Disney to co-produce “Desperate Housewives Africa,” which drew rave reviews across the continent.

Ebonylife TV has acquired the rights to “Dynasty” and “Melrose Place” from CBS Intl, and we are  the next seasons of “Housewives.”

We want an increased African audience to be glued to the same TV shows as their friends and family overseas.

 

Tell us about the release of the movie “Fifty”?

The movie “Fifty,” was Ebonylife TV’s first feature film, which was picked up by Netflix and released worldwide. The film was showcased four successful career women facing difficult midlife crises.

“Fifty” is a film that reflects my broader desire to tap into unaccustomed narratives of Africa — and African women in particular.

We're celebrating women who work together to accomplish great things - @MoAbudu Click To Tweet

Tell us about the Ebonylife TV Sisterhood Awards you’re hosting.

This is what we have established annually to empower women to work together to accomplish great things and seek to celebrate women who have excelled in laudable achievements.

The Ebonylife Sisterhood Awards was launched during my 50th birthday celebration in September 2014.

The event was themed – “Mo @ 50, Celebrating sisterhood”, it was a celebration of the deserving, but unsung women in the society. Women not often celebrated or celebrated enough, but who are making significant impacts in their particular areas of influence.

We recognize awardees based on their demonstration of excellence, commitment, innovativeness, integrity, and national impact.  


Do you have any career lessons to share?

Let us know here.